Dean Michael D. Smith

Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Michael D. Smith leads Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a deep commitment to undergraduate teaching, to strengthening the faculty, and to research, both fundamental and applied. Since the start of his deanship in July 2007, Smith has implemented and carefully cultivated the faculty tenure track system adopted formally in 2005, nurtured the development of the new School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, established a shared faculty commitment to excellence in teaching, expanded undergraduate research and opportunities for active learning, forged new partnerships to advance online learning, and re-envisioned the undergraduate House system for the 21st century.

In part, these accomplishments have come from a faculty-wide focus on academic planning and priority setting, which has fundamentally changed the way the FAS allocates its resources and controls costs. While leading the FAS through the unprecedented fiscal challenges posed by the 2008 Great Recession, the FAS under Smith’s leadership maintained and expanded Harvard’s industry-leading financial aid program, ensuring that the most talented students can attend the College, regardless of means. It has also invested in new academic and curricular initiatives, including a new undergraduate concentration in Theater, Dance and Media. 

A member of the Faculty since 1992, Smith is known for his innovative work on computing systems, particularly on issues involving a detailed knowledge of both the hardware and software in these sophisticated systems. Smith’s research interests include dynamic optimization, machine-specific and profile-driven compilation, high-performance computer architecture, and practical applications of security. He is also a leading figure in a range of interdisciplinary activities that explore the interplay of technology with other fields, from the life sciences to economics to philosophy to law.

Smith received a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1983, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1985, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1993. He began at Harvard in 1992 as an instructor and rose through the tenure-track ranks. In 1994 he received a prestigious National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, and in 1999 the Alpha Iota Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In 2001, Smith co-founded the data security company Liquid Machines Inc., whose enterprise rights management products gave companies the ability to easily control and manage access to valuable documents and other digital assets. Liquid Machines was acquired by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. in June 2010.

Phone: 617-495-1566