Yesterday’s faculty meeting sounds like a hot one. First, Randy Matory led a discussion about Conrad Harper’s resignation from the Harvard Corporation, suggesting that “the secretive Corporation, which is Harvardâs highest governing body, is indifferent to faculty concerns and has shied away from confronting difficult questions regarding Summersâ leadership.”
Sounds about right to me, from what I hear.
A quick digression: I’m enjoying the fact that the default adjective the Crimson uses to describe the Corporation is “secretive.” Not “influential,” not “wise,” not “respected,” not even “powerful.” But “secretive.” The Crimson is correct: its secrecy is the most salient fact about the Harvard Corporation…and it is also part of the dynamic by which the Corporation’s very legitimacy is eroding. It fascinates me that a consequence of the Harvard Corporation secretly choosing Lawrence Summers to be Harvard’s president will ultimately mean a choice it doesn’t want to make: becoming more transparent, or losing its moral authority over Harvard. Are the alumni paying attention?
Okay, back to the faculty meeting.
Apparently an even hotter discussion revolved around the fact that FAS dean Bill Kirby announced that FAS is going to slow the hiring of new faculty. It’s not a freeze, Kirby insisted, just more modest growth to give FAS finances a chance to breathe.
Here’s a question for some enterprising Crimson reporter: What is the real state of the university’s finances and fundraising?
Some relevant facts:
1) Harvard Management Corporation head Jack Meyer is quitting, and Harvard can’t seem to find a replacement for him.
2) Vice-president of finance Ann Berman is leaving Harvard to spend more time at her home in Italy.
3) The University reported that its fundraising last year was the highest since Larry Summers became president, which sounded, let’s say, counter-intuitive to me, because….
4) Harvard fundraisers simultaneously announced that they are postponing a long-planned capital campaign for another couple of years. The campaign was supposed to have started by now, but President Summers’ controversies have delayed its inception, and Harvard fundraisers say now that the delay is intended to help prioritize the Allston development.
5) And…FAS is slowing hiring, despite very public pledges by Bill Kirby to increase the size of the faculty. It would be interesting for someone to go back and look at his statements to this effect over the years and see how they jibe with his current announcement. It would also be interesting to see how many of those new hires are senior faculty, how many are part-time or junior, and how many more faculty are taking leaves of absence under the university’s recent, more generous leave policy.
6) Meanwhile, as some at the faculty meeting apparently pointed out, the university is spending $50 million in diversity efforts as a result of Summers’ unfortunate remarks about women in science.
Sounds to me like there’s a story there…and an important one. I suggest a three-part series.
P.S. I’m grateful to the Crimson for reporting on the faculty meeting, but it’s a little hard to tell from your relatively brief stories what really goes on. Can’t you guys post a transcript? Or at least the minutes?