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Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Ends FY 2019 with $13.6 Million Surplus

University Hall in Harvard Yard.
University Hall in Harvard Yard.
By Jonah S. Berger and Molly C. McCafferty, Crimson Staff Writers

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences ended fiscal year 2019 with a reported $13.6 million surplus, according to the Dean’s annual report.

That figure represents a substantial increase from the $3.1 million surplus in fiscal year 2018. Prior to 2018, the school reported at least four straight years of budget deficits.

This year’s larger surplus represents less than 0.1 percent of FAS’s annual budget, which is close to $1.6 billion. Among the school’s largest expenses were the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, on which FAS spent $200.9 million and House Renewal, which cost $91.2 million. Compensation for faculty increased by nearly 5 percent this year compared to a 3.4 percent increase during fiscal year 2018.

Nonetheless, the report states that FAS still faces a “time of financial challenges and uncertainty.” Without an internal debt restructuring agreement that FAS reached with the University in 2017, it would still be running a deficit, according to the report.

“The short-term relief afforded by the debt restructuring will give way to higher costs in time as the FAS compensates the University for reduced payments in the early years,” the report states.

The report also provides updated information on faculty searches and hiring. The overall size of the faculty has shrunk slightly in the past year, from 734 to 724. The report attributed the decrease to both “a lower-than-expected number of successfully completed searches” and “a higher-than-expected number of faculty departures.”

During the 2018-2019 academic year, FAS conducted 49 ladder faculty searches and made job offers to 34 candidates, 23 of whom accepted. Acceptance rates varied by gender, with 56 percent of women and 80 percent of men taking their offers. Three offers are still pending, two of which went out to women.

The report notes that of the women who have declined FAS’s job offers to date, “the majority cited spousal considerations in their decision.” In a May interview, Gay defended the University’s policy for spousal hires. Currently, FAS assists spouses of new hires with hunting for jobs in the area but does not give them preference for internal jobs in the way some universities do.

FAS put 16 of its ladder faculty up for tenure this year, with 11 cases succeeding. Female candidates saw an 80 percent success rate in their reviews, while male candidates prevailed 64 percent of the time.

The report notes that representation of both women and minority ladder faculty grew for the seventh year in a row.

FAS Dean Claudine Gay will present the report at the Faculty’s monthly meeting Tuesday, the first of the semester.

At the meeting, professors Edward J. Hall, James G. Anderson, and Naomi Oreskes will introduce a discussion on climate change and “Harvard’s appropriate response” to the “ecological crisis,” according to the agenda. At an April faculty meeting, University President Lawrence S. Bacow agreed to host an open forum or dedicate a portion of a future meeting to discuss fossil fuel divestment, in response to a request from Hall.

Professor Robert A. Lue will also update the Faculty on “expanded services” at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, which provides instruction to faculty members and teaching fellows.

—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mollmccaff.

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