Report, House Renewal at Center of First FAS Meeting

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences gathered Tuesday for the body’s first meeting of the fall semester to discuss a number of continuing initiatives on campus, including the pending relocation of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to Allston, the new Harvard Museums of Science and Culture consortium, and the FAS Dean’s Annual Report for the 2012-2013 academic year.

However, the meeting was largely dictated by the presentation of the annual report and varied faculty concerns expressed during lengthy question periods.


In the annual report, which was released to the faculty prior to the meeting, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith called FAS’s financial position “precarious” and, along with Dean for Administration and Finance Leslie A. Kirwan ’79, said that the FAS was looking to the Harvard Campaign for support.

Smith focused much of his presentation on the financial difficulties of the 2012-2013 academic year. “All of our funding streams have been under pressure, from what we can do with respect to tuition increases to what the heck is happening down in Washington, D.C. with respect to government funding,” Smith said. Government support for academic research has been reduced under the budget measure known as sequestration, which went into effect in March.

But Smith also expressed optimism. He announced that the FAS would launch its segment of the Harvard Campaign—the University’s first capital campaign since 1999—on Oct. 25, and highlighted the importance of the fundraising drive to the future of the FAS.

“Significant challenges remain, but there is much to be excited about,” he told the faculty. “The donors and the friends of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are all excited about the future vision that we are painting.”

While the annual report was the focus of much of the meeting, it was bookended by lengthy and divergent discussion periods. These included a conversation on House Renewal during which Kirwan, in response to a question from Professor of Mathematics Benedict H. Gross ’71, told the faculty that Stone Hall had come in under-budget, costing the University about $45 million. Kirwan added that the University spent $2.3 million to house students in swing spaces on Mass. Ave, Mt. Auburn St., and Plympton St. during construction.


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