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FAS Launches Three-Year Strategic Planning Initiative Across Academics, Tech, and Budgeting at Harvard

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences launched a strategic initiative aiming to improve its academic divisions, faculty support, and graduate education.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences launched a strategic initiative aiming to improve its academic divisions, faculty support, and graduate education. By Zing Gee
By Ariel H. Kim and Meimei Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences launched a three-year strategic planning initiative in the fall to identify resources needed for “long-term excellence” in graduate education, faculty support and development, and academic divisions.

The strategic planning process draws from numerous planning efforts across the FAS and will include four academic steering committees and two administrative initiatives on budgeting and technology usage, according to an FAS webpage launched in early April.

The plan extends from the work of the FAS Study Group — a faculty group convened by FAS Dean Claudine Gay in November 2020 to examine the school’s “financial sustainability, organizational flexibility, and institutional resilience,” per a November 2021 statement from Gay.

The initiative also builds on group conversations hosted by the FAS for faculty to discuss the future of the school. The resulting vision statement for the strategic planning process calls for a “strong, intellectually vibrant, creative FAS.”

Four steering committees will lead the academic strategic planning efforts — one for each of the Divisions of Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences, one for faculty support and development, and one for graduate education and admissions. The committees are comprised primarily of faculty, along with several staff members and students.

The Division of Science will hold similar planning conversations within existing faculty structures, including its department chairs and divisional committees.

In an interview with The Crimson earlier this month, Gay said the committees are in the beginning stages of their work.

“Those committees are assembled, and they’ve been charged and already, honestly, hard at work, mainly doing the information-gathering and taking the pulse of the community on the various issues,” she said.

In addition to academics, the FAS is launching two initiatives related to budgeting and technological support.

Scott A. Jordan, the FAS dean for administration and finance, will lead five different working groups dedicated to “reimagine budgeting.” According to the FAS webpage, the groups will tackle five topic areas — workforce planning, space and capital planning, multi-year planning, annual budgeting, and reporting and accountability measures — and draft recommendations to be implemented during the fiscal year 2024 budget process.

The working groups will launch their work in the next several weeks and will continue working during the summer and into the fall.

FAS Chief Information Officer Klara Jelinkova, who also serves as the vice president and university chief information officer, will lead a technology landscape study that will be overseen by an FAS steering committee. The study will assess and make recommendations on technology usage in the FAS.

Gay said in an interview that she has encouraged faculty to learn more about the committees and think about “what it means to build a school that really empowers us as teachers and scholars.”

Kristie T. La ’13, a Ph.D. candidate in History of Art & Architecture who serves as the graduate student representative on the arts and humanities steering committee, said the committee is still “early in the process” of their work.

“How can we organize the arts and humanities so that it can respond to the present and also be flexible enough for the future?” she said. “Many of these departments were created a really long time ago, with a really different student body, a very different history, a very different university overall, and obviously a completely different world.”

For the working group on graduate admissions and education, the goals include recommending changes that address the changing academic job market and stipend funding sources, per Graduate School of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Ann Hall. The FAS will use the information gathered to make adjustments in graduate admissions.

Corrections: April 29, 2022

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated one of the steering committees leading the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ academic strategic planning efforts will be for the Social Studies division. In fact, it will be for the Social Sciences division.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Faculty of Arts and Sciences launched a three-year strategic planning initiative earlier this month. In fact, the initiative began in October.

—Staff writer Ariel H. Kim can be reached at

—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.

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