2012 Annual Report
Letter from the Dean
Dear colleagues and friends,
It is my pleasure to report on the activities and financial results of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences during fiscal year 2012 (July 2011 through June 2012).
This was a year of milestones. As a community, we celebrated Harvard’s 375th anniversary with a uniquely Harvard birthday party in Tercentenary Theatre in October, followed by a year of conversations and events exploring the meanings and possibilities of Harvard’s past, present and future. It was a year of monumental change for our library system, in which, under the leadership of Provost Garber, a new integrated Harvard Library organization took its first steps. We marked the fifth anniversary of our industry-leading undergraduate financial aid program by expanding affordability for those families most in need. Excellence in teaching took center stage with a new series profiling great teachers, the launch of a search for the first faculty director of the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, our many collaborations with theHarvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching, and the launch of edX, an online learning partnership between Harvard and MIT, in which the FAS plays a leading role. Together with the Graduate School of Education, we established a doctoral degree in education, further expanding our interfaculty partnerships in ways that will serve our students and the wider world. After five years of planning, and the launch of two test projects, we announced the start of the system-wide renewal of our undergraduate Houses, an institution at the heart of the Harvard College experience. And, we welcomed a new dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, whose extraordinary accomplishments as a scholar and teacher underline Harvard’s commitment to nurturing an environment in which teaching and research are intrinsically interconnected.
As Dean Leslie Kirwan reports in the financial letter of this report, this year we were able to achieve our goal of bringing the operating budget into structural balance. This important achievement was made possible by the faculty’s ongoing fiscal discipline over the preceding three years, which required difficult choices by many across all departments and units of the FAS. I continue to be deeply grateful for the partnership of our faculty and administrative leaders, without which this result could not have been delivered. Though we should be proud of having reached this hard-won result, I would caution against the notion that the time for financial discipline is over, especially as other universities report lower than expected endowment returns. Furthermore, sponsored research, which saw gains that were a bright spot during the financial recovery, may decrease as federal funding for research declines, as many anticipate.
This noted, I would say that 2011-2012 was an exemplary year in which we, as a faculty, carefully shepherded our resources, while making important strategic investments that support both our historic broad excellence and our role as an institution that advances knowledge.
While these advancements were made possible through the hard work of many, there are a number of individuals whose service deserves special recognition. I am deeply grateful to William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions, Marlyn McGrath, director of admissions, and Sally Donahue, director of financial aid, for their commitment to the ideals of our programs as well as for their practical approach to ensuring our programs’ long-term sustainability. I would also like to acknowledge Lee and Deborah Gehrke, masters of Quincy House, Howard and Ann Georgi, masters of Leverett House, and Roger and Ann Porter, masters of Dunster House, for their continued counsel as we advance our plans for House Renewal. Merle Bicknell, assistant dean for physical resources, and Stephen Needham, senior director of project management for House Renewal, have been tremendous partners in this complex and rewarding project. I am deeply grateful to Anne Margulies, University chief information officer, and Rob Lue, faculty director of HarvardX, who have provided tireless support and thoughtful guidance as we launched edX and undertook the development of our HarvardX vision. The members of the Dean’s Faculty Resources Committee have provided invaluable feedback on our financial strategy that has made us stronger. The FAS Standing Committee and the other members of the FAS faculty who have advised the Library Board on the evolving vision for the Harvard Library system have made important contributions that will shape the future of this resource that is so close to the heart of our teaching and research mission. Finally, I am particularly indebted to the Academic Planning Group for their candor and collegiality and for the leadership they have shown in their schools, divisions, and units.
As always, we are enduringly grateful for the support of our loyal alumni and friends for our research and teaching mission in all its variety. In particular, I would like to thank Glenn Hutchins and Carl Martignetti, the co-chairs of the FAS Campaign, and the members of the Dean’s Campaign Planning Council for their guidance as we think about the future, and the Harvard College Fund Executive Committee for their work in making our fiscal year 2012 fundraising results so strong.
As always, I am amazed by the seemingly limitless energy and ideas of our extraordinary students.
I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and look forward to all the advances sure to come in the new academic year.
Michael D. Smith
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences