Campus & Community

President’s Letter to the Community

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John Harvard statue, flag, fall
Staff photo Rose Lincoln/Harvard News Office

November 7, 2005

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

I write to share with you some thoughts and hopes for the months ahead and to invite your engagement on the things that matter most to our extraordinary community – undertakings important to the vitality of the University, to the lives we can affect, and to Harvard’s prospects for the future.

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Before saying more, let me pause to salute two longtime members of the Harvard faculty whose work has recently been recognized with Nobel Prizes. Roy Glauber, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, was honored in physics “for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence.” Thomas Schelling, Littauer Professor of Public Policy, Emeritus (now resident at the University of Maryland), was honored in economics “for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.” Their distinguished scholarship vividly reminds us of the power of ideas generated here to help shape our world.

Challenges Facing the University

In the wake of events during the first half of 2005, I have spent a great deal of time visiting with faculty members, students, staff, alumni, and other friends of the University soliciting views on the quality of life and work at Harvard and on how we can most effectively address major challenges facing the University. These conversations have been enormously valuable for me, and I am grateful to all those who have given generously of their time. Our collective thinking is constantly evolving, and the progress of our efforts in every domain depends on the ideas and continuing engagement of the broad university community. Thus, I want to convey my sense of important recent developments, highlight some plans in key areas for the next year and beyond, and invite your thoughts. Areas of primary focus include:

  • attracting the strongest students to all parts of Harvard;
  • strengthening our faculty and its diversity at all levels;
  • providing the best educational experience for students;
  • expanding our efforts in the sciences;
  • enhancing our support for the humanities and the arts;
  • extending the University’s international role;
  • advancing Allston planning;
  • identifying resource needs; and
  • completing important leadership transitions.

    Attracting Outstanding Students

    Across the University, we are remarkably fortunate in the exceptionally talented students we continue to attract. The Harvard College Class of 2009 was drawn from the largest (22,796) and most competitive (admission rate of 9.1 percent) applicant pool in the history of the College. With a yield of more than 78 percent of admitted students, Harvard continues to lead the nation’s most selective colleges in its attractiveness to undergraduates. In addition, Harvard has significantly enhanced its ability to draw Ph.D. students in the past several years, and most of the professional Schools report increased numbers of applicants, yields, or both.

    The economic diversity of our classes has begun to increase as well. At a time when trends toward increased social mobility in the United States have stalled, and when, by some measures, stratification in higher education is on the rise, this is a crucial priority. (See

    For this year’s entering class of undergraduates, parents in families with incomes of less than $40,000 are no longer expected to contribute to the cost of their children’s Harvard education, and contributions have been reduced for families with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000. These increases in assistance, coupled with an aggressive new recruiting program led by Harvard College Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons and staffed by current Harvard students from similar backgrounds, increased by 22 percent the number of first-year students in the qualifying income ranges.

    This result contributes to the diversity – in race and ethnicity, geography, talent, and intellectual interest – that has long brought strength to our student body. With only about one-sixth of the College’s students coming from families in the lower half of the American income distribution, however, and indications of similar patterns elsewhere in the University, we have much work ahead of us if we are to maximize our contribution to achieving equality of opportunity. I hope that each of our faculties will over the next several years find creative ways to enhance their ability to attract students from less privileged backgrounds.

    A second priority is to provide adequate financial aid to outstanding graduate students in fields in which expected income is not high but expected value to society is great. One consequence of Harvard’s “every tub on its own bottom” system, by which individual Schools are largely responsible for raising and managing their own resources, is that the Schools whose students most need financial aid are often those least able to provide it. In recent years, we have taken several major steps toward addressing this concern:


  • Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William C. Kirby and former Dean Peter Ellison of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have led a successful effort to guarantee fifth-year support for all Ph.D. students and to provide greater financial aid resources for Ph.D. students generally, resulting in a substantial increase in the yield rate in many of our Ph.D. programs.
  • We established the Presidential Scholars program to provide financial support to outstanding master’s and doctoral students preparing for careers in public service or in the academic disciplines. Begun in the 2003-04 academic year, and supported by funds drawn from central administration budget savings, the new alumni affinity credit card, and discretionary funds, we have so far allocated over $14.5 million to more than 200 graduate and professional school students selected by their Schools. We are currently in the process of extending and expanding the program for future years. Additionally, the new Zuckerman and Reynolds fellowship programs, established this past year, annually fund more than 40 master’s and doctoral students preparing for careers that serve society.
  • Thanks to negotiations led by our CFO Ann Berman and her colleagues, we have established a sub-prime interest rate loan program for graduate and professional students, domestic or international, up to the cost of attendance at Harvard, with loan volume now totaling approximately $100 million.The University still has a long way to go toward assuring that the most talented students are drawn into careers that address our society’s most important needs. With the combined leadership of Bill Fitzsimmons, School financial aid officers, Vice President for Policy Clayton Spencer, and a newly formed task force of alumni, we will seek to assess needs and mobilize resources on a university-wide basis to improve access to all of our Harvard programs for talented students regardless of their financial circumstances.

    Strengthening the Faculty

    The University makes no investment more important than in building and supporting an outstanding faculty. Our Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is in the midst of the first period of substantial growth in well over a generation – growth essential to the fulfillment of the faculty’s curricular and research aspirations. As Dean Kirby reported in a recent letter to colleagues, by January 2006 the FAS expects to have 700 “ladder” faculty (assistant, associate, and full professors), compared with 603 in 1999. This growth exceeds even the optimistic targets set several years ago, and reflects our success in hiring nearly 80 percent of the senior faculty to whom we made offers in recent years – the highest success rate in more than 20 years.

    The University is committed to supporting the FAS in reaching its goal of 750 faculty members by the end of 2010, with further expansion anticipated beyond that date. While the rate of growth will slow this year as the faculty absorbs the rapid increases of the past several years, the 78 new searches already authorized for this year assure continued recruitment of outstanding scholars to the FAS.

    While growth has been most dramatic in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Law School and the Divinity School, with the leadership of Deans Elena Kagan and Bill Graham, are also experiencing strong and needed faculty growth. In fact, thanks to careful resource management and the excellent performance of the endowment in the past two years, most of Harvard’s faculties are now in a position to add faculty positions. In addition, we must plan for a generational transition in our faculties, most of which face numerous faculty retirements in the coming years. The myriad hiring decisions that will be made over the next five to 15 years will have an enormous impact on the University for decades to come. We cannot hope to build an outstanding faculty for the next generation without paying increased and systematic attention to issues of faculty development and diversity.

    To that end, the Task Force on Women Faculty last spring recommended that we create the position of Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, combining participation in appointment processes at the junior and senior levels with a focus on diversifying the faculty. We are very fortunate that Professor Evelynn Hammonds has agreed to serve in this role, positioning us well to enhance the diversity and excellence of the faculty at all ranks.

    The academic year 2004-05 included signs of progress. In the FAS, 33 tenure offers were made, of which 27 percent were to women, and almost one-third were internal promotions. At the junior faculty level, 66 offers were made, of which 38 percent were to women. Of the 53 junior faculty who have accepted to date, 21 are women, and 16 (including nine of the women) are members of minority groups.

    Looking ahead, Senior Vice Provost Hammonds has already begun working with deans across the University to implement key recommendations from the Task Forces on Women Faculty and on Women in Science and Engineering that reported their findings and recommendations last May. These measures include:

  • collecting survey and other data that will allow us better to understand the Harvard faculty in terms of numbers, composition, career paths, and level of support for academic advancement and family-related issues;
  • adopting – and adapting to our needs – best practices culled by the Task Forces from our peer institutions in the areas of faculty recruitment and retention, and leadership development for deans and department chairs; and
  • analyzing – and where necessary, improving – our parental leave policies, child care resources, dependent care funding for academic travel, and other mechanisms to support our faculty as they navigate challenging academic careers while seeking to balance the demands of work and family.Harvard must and will always make maximum efforts to recruit outstanding established scholars. But as we look to the future, family issues and growing competition from other universities will continue to make it more challenging to recruit established scholars from elsewhere. We thus have an increasing stake in the development of our junior faculty, who perform a significant part of the University’s most important teaching and research.In the FAS and a number of other faculties, we are already paying increased attention to assuring the recruitment and hiring of the most able junior faculty; to weighing future potential as well as past accomplishment in making senior faculty appointments; and, through such measures as reconsidering junior faculty research support and leave policy, to enable junior scholars to develop their careers while contributing fully to the university community. But there is a great deal more to do if we are to maximize the University’s potential to attract and develop the world’s most outstanding scholars early in their careers.

    These efforts will require our systematic attention and significant resources. To that end, the University has committed $50 million over the next decade to support initiatives aimed at increasing faculty excellence and diversity. Our objective must be to excel and set a standard in these crucial areas.

    Providing the Best Educational Experience for Students

    Reshaping and Revitalizing the Undergraduate Experience

    One of Harvard’s ever-present challenges is to provide our undergraduate students with the opportunity for an educational experience commensurate with their extraordinary talents and aspirations. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has been engaged for the past two years in a comprehensive review of every dimension of the College curriculum – from general education to pedagogy to education abroad to expository writing. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many faculty members who have spent countless hours on curricular review over the past two years, and I look forward to extensive discussion as the entire faculty further engages with these issues during the course of this year.

    Meanwhile, as the curriculum review has proceeded, Dean Kirby and Harvard College Dean Benedict Gross have worked hard to ensure progress in a number of areas in which it is clear, partly based on our students’ own assessment of their experience, that improvement is necessary. For example:

  • Freshman seminars (small, discussion-based courses of no more than 14 students) have become a key element of the first-year experience, as the number of seminars has risen from 34 in 1998-99 (including less than one-quarter of the freshman class) to at least 141 this year – enough to accommodate almost the entire class.
  • Small seminars in large departments such as History and Government are being taught by senior faculty for junior concentrators. With the Economics Department’s announcement of similar plans, we will now have junior seminars in many of the large concentrations.
  • A new year-long introductory course sequence, Life Sciences 1a and 1b, developed by the Life Sciences Education Committee, integrates materials from five departments – Biological Anthropology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology – reflecting the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the life sciences. The first-semester course, Life Sciences 1a, has attracted 480 students – roughly a quarter of an undergraduate class – in its inaugural year. A similar course sequence is being developed in the physical sciences.Faculty in a number of other areas have ambitious plans for new introductory courses. Committees have proposed a number of changes to give students more flexibility as they both choose concentrations and fulfill general education requirements. It is widely recognized that this increased flexibility will require improved academic advising, and the College is actively exploring measures to strengthen the advising system. I hope and expect that over the remainder of the year we will see consensus develop around a range of reforms that will significantly enhance the Harvard undergraduate experience.Our students’ educational experience increasingly extends beyond campus as well. With the growing emphasis on global engagement throughout the University, the number of students who study abroad during their undergraduate years has more than doubled, from 164 in 2001-02 to 451 in 2004-05. Many others, with assistance from our faculty and from our international and area studies centers, do research, internships, or volunteer work abroad – a total of 482 in the summer of 2005. All told, in 2004-05, our undergraduates recorded 933 international experiences. In other words, more than half our undergraduates are choosing to pursue a significant international experience as part of their Harvard education.

    With further effort, it is within our reach over the next several years to assure that a significant international experience at some point during their college careers becomes the norm for Harvard undergraduates. Given the careers our students can expect and the importance of increased international understanding, this is a vital educational goal.

    Life outside the classroom also continues to develop, with a series of major renovations to student spaces supported by University funds:

  • Plans call for the transformation of the former Hilles College Library into 50,000 square feet of student activity and social space.
  • By next academic year, the College will open a café in Lamont Library, where students can study, read, or work online.
  • A permanent pub space, based on the successful experiment with pub nights last year, will transform Loker Commons, and Loker will also add more practice spaces for College musicians.
  • Finally, the College is exploring ways to improve basement spaces in several of the Yard dorms, in addition to the new and renovated recreational facilities in the Malkin Athletic Center and the Houses, and the major renovation of the Hemenway Gymnasium.Highlights from Other SchoolsFrom among the exciting scholarly and educational initiatives under way across our graduate and professional schools, I will mention only a few broad trends.

    First, efforts at curricular review and reform are not limited to Harvard College. The M.D. curriculum at the Medical School, the J.D. curriculum at the Law School, and the M.Div. curriculum at the Divinity School are among the degree programs recently or currently under intensive review. Meanwhile, the Business School has introduced a new required course on leadership and corporate accountability, and the Education School and Kennedy School are each considering a more focused curricular “core.”

    Many of our Schools are also creating new approaches to the professions and the sectors of society they influence and serve, combining scholarly rigor with relevance to practice. Further, within the University we have begun to enhance collaboration across School and departmental boundaries. Joint degree programs increasingly allow students to prepare for careers that bring different professional and intellectual interests to bear on some of society’s most pressing problems. For example:

  • The Law School and Kennedy School have created a joint J.D./M.P.A program, in which students may earn both degrees in a four-year period.
  • The Law School also now offers joint degrees with the School of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H.), the Business School (J.D./M.B.A.), and the Graduate School of Design (J.D./M.U.P.).
  • Joint degrees may also be earned from the Kennedy School and the Divinity School in a similar manner.
  • Students may earn concurrent degrees from the Kennedy School and either the Business School or the Medical School by spending the first year at KSG, and the remaining years of their program at the other School, cross-registering to complete their requirements.
  • A coordinated J.D./Ph.D. can now be pursued through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Law School.
  • The Business School and the Medical School have launched an M.D./M.B.A. for those interested in business aspects of health care;
  • The FAS, the Medical School, the School of Public Health, and the Dental School have taken major steps to integrate our diverse array of doctoral programs in the life sciences.The Public Education Leadership Project (PELP), a joint initiative of the Graduate School of Education and the Business School, aims to bolster student achievement in our nation’s schools by improving the leadership and management of complex urban school districts, including those in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. The PELP program brings leadership teams from nine urban school districts to Harvard each summer and works through a series of specially designed cases developed on the model of Harvard Business School cases.

    Expanding Efforts in the Sciences

    Thanks to the imaginative efforts of many faculty members, as well as the prospect of substantial new space, Harvard is increasingly well positioned to move forward at a time of extraordinary opportunity in the sciences. Within the past two years, we have launched several new initiatives – each highly promising in its own right and together emblematic of the rising salience of scientific ventures that reach across disciplines and that feed on the productive interplay of basic scientific inquiry and technological innovation. These include, among others:

  • the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a cooperative effort among several Harvard Schools and hospitals, which has emerged as a leading national and international player at one of the most exciting frontiers in the life sciences;
  • the Broad Institute, a collaborative venture with MIT and several of the hospitals, which is now engaging more than 60 core and associate faculty members and their labs in harnessing the power of genomics to transform clinical medicine;
  • the Department of Systems Biology, based at the Medical School and increasingly linked to key partners in the FAS basic science departments and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) – which is shedding new light on how the properties of complex biological systems arise from the interactions among their parts;
  • the FAS Center for Neuroscience, which together with the HMS Department of Neurobiology is drawing on major advances in the science of the brain in seeking to explain human cognition and behavior at the level of individual cells and genes;
  • the Harvard Initiative for Global Health, which is joining experts in public health, medicine, the social sciences, and beyond to address challenges ranging from combating the spread of infectious diseases to developing more sophisticated metrics of population health to understanding the demography of aging.These endeavors – which take their place alongside the Bauer Center for Genomics, the Center for Nanoscale Systems, and other innovative ventures of recent years – illustrate not only an encouraging record of progress in the pursuit of individual initiatives, but also growing signs of a culture that values rather than inhibits the crossing of traditional disciplinary boundaries in search of new intellectual challenges. That said, we must remain constantly alert to the importance of reinforcing the disciplinary foundations of science, as embodied in the core science departments in FAS, the Medical School (HMS), and the School of Public Health (HSPH) – always mindful that the vitality of new interdisciplinary work depends on the enduring strength and continuing renewal of the disciplines themselves.With a broad array of initiatives either under way or in prospect, and with the promise of new and more flexibly designed facilities for science and technology on the horizon, we have made good progress this past year in planning for science in more systematic and forward-looking ways. A University task force, bringing together faculty from key FAS departments, DEAS, HMS, and HSPH as well as Provost Steven Hyman and others, solicited ideas for promising ventures from across the Harvard science community, with impressive results. The proposals highlighted as a result of the task force’s work are remarkable in their sweep. They include a number of the recent initiatives noted above – as well as others that range from innovative computing to the origins of life, from chemical biology to the environment, and from translational immunology to quantum science and engineering to microbial science.

    Some of the initiatives are well along, others are in the planning stages, and still others will no doubt emerge in time, given the dynamic nature of scientific inquiry. Some will find a principal home in Cambridge – including the major new buildings under construction along Oxford Street – some will reside in Longwood, and some will occupy eventual new facilities in Allston. Some will likely ripen into more permanent endeavors; others will have more the character of short-term projects that pave the way for new avenues of research. All of them demonstrate the lively spirit of our scientific enterprise, and the expanding interest among our faculty in exploring new pathways not only separately but together. (More on these initiatives, and on the work of the faculty task force, appears at

    Engineering deserves special mention. With the decision of Venkatesh Narayanamurti to conclude his distinguished service as Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences next June, it is worth underscoring that this is a moment of particular opportunity for Harvard to contemplate the scope and shape of its forward-looking commitment to education and research in engineering and technology. As all who have watched the DEAS in recent years can attest, Dean Venky’s vigorous leadership – together with the creative efforts of colleagues both longstanding and new – has done much to energize Harvard’s efforts in this domain. The coming academic year presents not only the challenge of identifying a new leader of these efforts, but also an opportunity to focus collective attention on how best to build an appropriately robust future for engineering at Harvard – capitalizing on Harvard’s distinctive strengths, building critical mass in targeted areas of inquiry, and fortifying ties with the many other parts of the University, both within and beyond the sciences, that would value closer engagement with engineering and technology.

    Inevitably, discussions of science planning tend to focus on initiatives that involve many scientists collaborating on pressing problems. There is clearly enormous scope for breaking down barriers between disciplines and fostering productive collaborations. At the same time, any review of Harvard’s greatest successes in science, or of the progress of science more generally, demonstrates that the most important discoveries often emerge out of efforts led by creative individual investigators at the heart of the disciplines. It will be essential, as we plan, to assure the adequacy of resources for individual investigators working within established disciplines, especially at a time when the availability of external support for emerging investigators in a number of fields is under pressure.

    Finally, I want to thank Barbara Grosz, Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the DEAS and Dean of Science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, for her outstanding leadership of the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering that reported last May. Drawing on best practices from peer research universities, the task force proposed a series of reforms and enhancements designed to keep women and minorities in the “pipeline” toward and through scientific careers – from undergraduates, to graduate students, to postdoctoral fellows, to the faculty ranks. These reforms include, among others: creating better mentoring and advising mechanisms at every stage; establishing study centers for undergraduates to support collaborative efforts in introductory science courses; and providing on-campus housing in the summer for undergraduates participating in scientific research with Harvard faculty. Senior Vice Provost Hammonds is working actively with the College and others to ensure effective implementation of the task force recommendations.

    Enhancing Support for the Humanities and the Arts

    At a time when the larger society zealously embraces practical training and pre-professional education, and transformative changes in science rightly command widespread attention, institutions like Harvard must actively affirm the importance of the arts and humanities as critical foundations of a college curriculum and vital areas for scholarship and creative expression. Indeed, recent studies of the curricular choices of Harvard undergraduates reveal that after satisfying general education and concentration requirements, they disproportionately choose to enroll in humanities courses as free electives.

    The FAS is, of course, the University’s largest and most comprehensive home of scholarship and education in humanities and the arts. In recent years, the FAS has added new and outstanding humanities faculty – notably in History of Art and Architecture, Music, and Visual and Environmental Studies, among others. And it has facilitated research in the humanities by completing the first thoroughgoing renovation of Widener Library, opening two new reading rooms created out of the old light courts. These new study spaces, which testify to the centrality of texts and reading to the humanistic enterprise, are the culmination of five years of work to protect and preserve the pre-eminent University research collection in the country.

    Similarly, during the past academic year, the Radcliffe Institute renovated the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America as a state-of-the-art special collections library. Materials from the Schlesinger contributed centrally to the pilot project of Harvard’s Open Collections Program, which provides access to digitized materials selected from Harvard’s libraries and museums. This initial effort, “Women Working, 1800-1930,” features 7,500 pages of manuscripts, 3,500 books and pamphlets, and 1,200 photographs, which can now be accessed from any computer in the world.

    We continue to benefit from the leadership of outstanding faculty in the humanities. This past summer, Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature, was named director of the Humanities Center, taking over the reins from founding director Marjorie Garber, who, during the center’s first 20 years, built it into a lively and integral part of the humanities landscape. Professor Bhabha has ambitious plans to bring scholars from different fields together around issues of mutual interest, not only within the humanities but also reaching out beyond.

    ‘We have witnessed excellent progress across our arts and humanities institutions in recent years, and we must continue to attend to and to invest in these disciplines and institutions if they are to maintain their rightful place at the heart of the University.’ (Staff photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News Office)

    With the leadership of Dean Drew Faust, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, now entering its seventh year, has emerged as another important catalyst for interdisciplinary research and collaboration on the Harvard campus. The Institute annually brings approximately 50 women and men to Cambridge as Radcliffe Institute fellows. While pursuing their own projects, many of the fellows work with faculty at Schools and departments across the University and provide research opportunities for Harvard undergraduates as well. The Institute’s various lecture series, conferences, and colloquia bring together scholars from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts to explore topics such as the role of gender in war, the films of Almodovar, obesity, school violence, women in astronomy, and computational biology, to name a few.

    Arts activity on campus continues in its lively and multifarious tradition. Harvard has recently entered into an affiliation with cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s (’76) Silk Road Project. Founded in 1998, the project takes its name from the ancient trade routes that once linked the people and traditions of Asia with those of Europe. During their first weeklong residency at Harvard this fall, in addition to leading rehearsals, coaching, and performing with Harvard students, Silk Road musicians participated in two Music Department classes, Thomas Kelly’s “First Nights” and Kay Shelemay’s “Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World.”

    The Silk Road Project is just one example of the many arts activities that enliven campus and community life. Jack Megan, director of the Office for the Arts, reports that there are more than 1,000 student musicians, 600 dancers, and 700 students involved in drama. Together, they produce 500 concerts annually, as well as 60 dance performances and a comparable number of theatrical productions each year. In addition, there are an estimated 300-plus students involved in studio art, including ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture, film, and photography.

    The FAS is not alone in supporting humanistic and artistic inquiry and education at Harvard. The Divinity School has made impressive progress in expanding its faculty with strong new appointments in Buddhist studies, Islamic studies, comparative religion, ethics, and Christian theology and history. And the Design School last year welcomed Alan Altshuler as its new Dean. With his leadership, three new senior faculty have been appointed in architecture and urban planning.

    The Harvard University Art Museums (comprising the Fogg, Sackler, and Busch-Reisinger museums) and the American Repertory Theatre (ART) represent only two of Harvard’s remarkable cultural treasures. The former has just completed a strategic planning process for the renovation of its flagship facility on Quincy Street, which will improve access for students and researchers. The ART, with the University’s help, opened a second stage last year at Zero Arrow Street, on the eastern end of Harvard Square, and we are in the process of renovating space to create a New College Theater.

    We have witnessed excellent progress across our arts and humanities institutions in recent years, and we must continue to attend to and to invest in these disciplines and institutions if they are to maintain their rightful place at the heart of the University. To this end, Provost Hyman has appointed a faculty committee to lead planning and coordination for arts and culture at Harvard, staffed by the University’s first associate provost with special responsibility for this domain. Among other things, this committee will take the lead in shaping plans for the integration of artistic and cultural activities – and the facilities to support them – in Allston. And it will help to ensure that the arts, culture, and humanities are a well-developed priority in the University’s next major fundraising effort.

    Extending the University’s International Role

    At a time when it is vitally important to understand the world around us and to have others in the world understand us, the University has a special obligation to prepare students to comprehend and embrace changing global realities. From greater coverage of non-Western material in art, music, literature, and social science courses, to the expansion of the role of the African American Studies Department to embrace African studies, to the extension of our network of area studies programs to cover every major region of the world, we are assuring that our students graduate with much more understanding of the developing world than any previous generation of students.

    Our professional schools also reflect a more encompassing international reach in terms of both curriculum and enrollment. The University’s degree students come from nearly 90 different countries, and international students account for nearly one-third of the population of degree students in our Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Kennedy School, and the Schools of Business, Public Health, and Design.

    Harvard exists not only to spread knowledge but also to create it, and that pursuit is visibly active in the international domain. Research at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center has shaped the agenda for our national effort to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism by securing weapons-grade materials around the world. Research at the Divinity School on Islam is an important and growing source of learning about that religion’s deepest traditions and ideals. And last month, Sue Goldie, Associate Professor of Health Decision Science at the School of Public Health, was awarded a MacArthur grant “for genius and creativity” in her work on creating tools and evaluation methods on the clinical benefits, public health impact, and cost-effectiveness of alternative preventive and treatment interventions for viruses that are major public health problems around the globe.

    Beyond research on pressing global challenges, the humanistic scholarship that is Harvard’s deepest tradition develops the wisdom that is essential to create a secure world. It is not for the University to have a foreign policy. But it is very much for the University to encourage and support our faculty as they engage with the vexing problems of the world – a world where decisions and actions taken in ignorance can have terrible consequences – and where decisions and actions informed by deep knowledge can transform a great many lives for the better. Here are a few examples:

  • Harvard Medical International harnesses the expertise of our medical faculty to train doctors and scientists, design models for patient care, and generate new discoveries in more than 30 countries worldwide.
  • The Business School’s Global Initiative has research centers in Hong Kong, Paris, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and soon in Mumbai, that allow faculty to immerse themselves in the culture and business practices of these regions, leading to business cases that are more global in perspective than ever before.
  • The School of Public Health is one of a handful of institutions chosen for a large program under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to provide capacity building and treatment for tens of thousands of people where the AIDS pandemic has already taken a staggering toll.Last year, Provost Hyman established a university-wide task force to review policies and practices concerning the creation, management, and coordination of international projects and sites in order to help the University expand its international activities. Professor Jorge Dominguez chaired the task force, which included faculty representatives from the FAS, Business School, Kennedy School, Law School, Medical School, and School of Public Health. The committee considered measures to strengthen Harvard’s projects and presence abroad and expects to release a report later in this academic year. With input from faculty and others across the University, we will continue to consider how best to extend Harvard’s reach into other parts of the world. 

    Advancing Allston Planning

    Harvard’s chance to develop a new, integrated extension of its campus in Allston on a scale equivalent to what we have in Cambridge is a truly rare – and immensely exciting – opportunity for a modern, urban university. It is also a hugely complex undertaking that would present challenges for any organization, but particularly for a university, whose footprint must be shaped by academic aspiration and supported by a careful and broadly collaborative planning process.

    Our approach to Allston planning, therefore, has been to establish an iterative process in which academic and physical concepts inform one another, producing a phased approach to the project. Thus in 2003-04, four faculty task forces, comprising about 80 individuals from across the University, developed a series of programmatic options in four broad domains – science and technology, professional schools, undergraduate life, and Allston life (with an emphasis on arts and culture).

    Over the course of the succeeding year, 2004-05, the planning team of Cooper, Robertson & Partners (CRP), Frank Gehry, and the Olin Partnership, working with university officials and a master planning advisory group, created a draft framework that delineates a range of options for possible building sites, infrastructure, and open space in Allston, and lays out alternative locations for the various academic options recommended by the faculty task forces the year before.

    This fall, the CRP work is being displayed in an “Allston Exhibit Room” – a dedicated space located in Holyoke Center that visually displays the range of ideas currently being considered for Harvard in Allston. A version of these plans will also be made available for viewing and comment online. The room, and its associated Web site (, will provide a venue for faculty and others from across the University community and our surrounding neighborhoods to learn about emerging ideas and options, to contribute their thoughts, and to help us ensure that the choices we make reflect the best long-term interests of the University and our neighbors. The room will be open throughout the fall, and will be available for visits by interested individuals as well as for structured consultations with various constituencies. The input that we receive will contribute much to shaping our subsequent planning efforts.

    Meanwhile, a new Allston development group is being formed this fall that will work overtime to convert the plans and programs eventually decided upon by the University into physical reality. Because of the magnitude, complexity, and cost of transforming industrial and urban space into a campus, this group will be led by development professionals who have had experience in similar mega-projects.

    I am very pleased that we were able to recruit Christopher M. Gordon, formerly director of Capital Programs and Logan Modernization for the Massachusetts Port Authority, to lead this effort. As chief operating officer for Allston development, Chris will help shape a new Harvard organization, to be located in Allston, which will have responsibility for organizing and implementing the real estate development activities that flow from the academic and master planning processes. This work will include a focus on the expected first-phase development, likely to be carried out over the next 10 to 15 years.

    One of the first tasks of the new group will be to develop the infrastructure necessary to support Harvard’s initial building project in Allston – a first, 500,000-square-foot science building complex to support teaching and research, as recommended by the Science Task Force, expected to be followed by an adjacent science building of similar size. These projects will be composed of sustainable buildings and landscaping consistent with Harvard’s intent to make Allston “green.”

    Life Sciences
    ‘A new introductory course, Life Sciences 1a, has attracted 480 students – roughly a quarter of an undergraduate class – in its inaugural year.’ (Staff photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News Office)

    Two committees chaired by Provost Hyman have been formed to move the first building forward: 1) a science building committee (SBC) comprising 12 faculty members and administrators from the FAS (including DEAS), the Medical School, and affiliated hospitals, who are beginning to work on the program design and think about a possible site; and 2) a science design advisory group comprising eight members, including a subset of faculty from the SBC as well as design experts who will assist in the selection of an architect and a possible site. These projects have a certain urgency, given our faculty’s desire to expand in highly competitive new areas, including stem cell research. We thus hope to select a site and start the design and approval process for the first building during this academic year.

    Even as we move toward a first science building in Allston, it will be essential that we continue to plan for the full range of academic and other activities that will ultimately take place in Allston. The arts and culture committee referred to above is charged with identifying opportunities to enrich the cultural life of the University and the neighboring community. Meanwhile, the College will continue to develop its thinking regarding undergraduate houses in Allston, as the professional schools reflect on the opportunities that relocation to Allston provides, or on the opportunities for collaboration that it presents.

    We will also be engaged with increased intensity this year in discussions with the community and with local leaders regarding our plans and the many contributions we expect to make to urban life in Allston. There will also be a range of other issues to consider, from transportation issues, to sustainability, to questions of architectural style. I have asked the Allston team to consult widely on all these questions to assure that, as our plans develop, the many perspectives within the University and the wider community are reflected as fully as possible.

    As we create new spaces in Allston for academic, cultural, and student life, we will free up certain spaces in Cambridge and Longwood and, in a variety of ways, ease the pressure on what has for many decades been a very constrained physical environment. One of our challenges, therefore, is to integrate planning for Allston into the overall planning for Schools and units within the University, and to ensure that we approach opportunities in Cambridge and Longwood with the same degree of energy, organization, and creativity that we bring to the expanded domain of Allston. After all, the ultimate objective of our planning is not to optimize Harvard’s Allston campus; it is to make use of the tremendous opportunity that Allston represents to maximize Harvard’s educational and research contributions overall.

    Identifying Resource Needs

    University Finances

    Allston may be the most concrete example of the scale and scope of our long-term ambitions as a University, but this letter should make clear that extending the excellence and vitality of Harvard across the range of academic and professional fields in which we are engaged will require constant renewal and strategic growth. We are very fortunate in this regard that we operate from a position of exceptional financial strength, with an endowment approaching $26 billion, a surplus from operations, and continuing robust investment returns.

    Endowment returns topping 21 percent in fiscal year 2004 permitted increases in payout that gave Schools an additional $20 million over budgeted amounts for priority items during this budget year. Strong endowment results this past year – returns of 19 percent – will continue to support financial aid and additional faculty as well as enable us to undertake new initiatives. Many Schools have improved their overall financial health through cost-reduction measures, as well as improved revenues from such programs as executive education and stronger-than-expected federal support for sponsored research.

    Though our financial situation is enviable, we are a huge organization with over 15,000 employees, an annual budget in excess of $2.5 billion, and a continuing need for capital investment in particularly expensive domains. Furthermore, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences faces serious budget challenges given the ongoing expansion of the faculty and the recent or pending completion of a number of building projects – the new Center for Government and International Studies and three state-of-the-art science buildings in the North Yard – that are crucial to the vitality of our academic programs but very expensive to construct.

    Fundraising Needs and GoalsGiven the scale of our operations and ambitions, we will continue to depend on substantial fundraising to supplement existing resources. We are thus working toward the public launch of a university-wide capital campaign within the next several years.

    With that in mind, we have worked hard in the past two years to move planning forward in the key domains of faculty growth and development, university-wide financial aid, science, and Allston development, while anticipating further programmatic decision-making by our various Schools and faculties with respect to curricular reform, the relative priority of selected academic fields for incremental growth, and the possibilities for interfaculty collaboration. Our task for this year will be to complete academic planning at the School and unit level and bring the results of those processes together with the various elements of planning that are in progress.

    To this end, we have initiated an integrative planning process involving the provost and central budget and development staffs in collaboration with deans, faculty members, and relevant staff in the Schools. This planning process is designed to foster collective deliberation about academic priorities within individual Schools and faculty engagement with various areas of cross-cutting research and policy. Our aim is to generate an overall assessment of the funds needed to support existing core academic and program needs, to augment capacity in areas in which we need to build strength, to permit entry into domains in which we do not yet have a meaningful presence, and to enable us to realize the potential represented by Allston.

    As we work toward a comprehensive assessment of our needs on the School and University levels, we will take an equally comprehensive approach to evaluating funding sources. Given the size of our endowment and the robust returns of recent years, we have been in the fortunate position of having significant funds, above and beyond expected investment returns, to devote to priority investments in the Schools and faculties. We will continue to devote significant endowment funds to strategic priorities going forward, as long as investment returns permit.

    Our campaign plan, therefore, will grow out of an integrated picture of academic needs and priorities, with a corresponding picture of funding sources. Out of this we will develop a campaign plan that will identify as fundraising goals those items – whether core academic needs or projects on the frontiers of knowledge – that cannot effectively be funded by other means.

    As we work toward a campaign, our ongoing fundraising remains very solid. Gifts from more than 82,000 donors totaled $590 million in fiscal year 2005, a $50 million increase over fiscal year 2004 and the second highest total in Harvard’s history.

    Harvard Business School is scheduled to complete its first-ever capital campaign in December, having surpassed its $500 million goal well ahead of schedule. The funds raised support fellowships for M.B.A. and doctoral students, global research, technology initiatives, and faculty development, and make possible campus renewal such as the beautiful renovation of the Baker Library. The Law School, also well into its capital campaign, has raised over $250 million against a goal of $400 million, with three years to go.

    In the near term, we continue to consult broadly with alumni, donors, and friends of the University to engage their expertise in various areas and to help us calibrate resource needs. As part of this effort, various alumni have agreed to serve on four university-wide advisory committees in science, Allston planning, financial aid, and university finance. With the benefit of this input and the broader planning process described above, we will be in a position to work toward specific fundraising targets.

    Completing Important Leadership Transitions

    New leadership will guide us in several areas of the University. I have mentioned the appointment of Professor Evelynn Hammonds as our first Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. In addition, Professor John Huchra of the Astronomy Department has in recent months stepped into his new role as Vice Provost for Research Policy, and is already doing much to enhance the University’s focus on matters of research policy and compliance. On the administrative front, Eric Buehrens, formerly HMS executive dean for administration, began work in September as Deputy Provost for Administration, a new role within the Office of the Provost. He will provide administrative leadership and oversight for cross-cutting initiatives, including the science planning and administrative components of building new scientific research facilities and programs for the Allston campus.

    I also want to recognize and thank two highly regarded faculty members who this summer took up their duties as acting deans of their Schools – Professor Jay Light at the Business School and Professor Kathleen McCartney at the Graduate School of Education. The University is fortunate to have both of them in these interim roles as we intensify the searches for new longer-term deans at both Schools. I am working with faculty advisory groups on both of these searches, as well as consulting widely within the relevant school communities, and I continue to welcome nominations and advice on these critical transitions.

    Within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government, assumed her responsibilities as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on July 1, 2005. We are already benefiting in a variety of ways from the energy and intellectual breadth that she brings to the deanship.

    Meanwhile, as noted above, Venky Narayanamurti last spring announced his plans to step down at the end of this academic year as Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A search for the next dean of the DEAS is now under way, with a faculty search advisory committee drawn from the FAS and relevant fields in other Schools.

    On other fronts, we recently announced the appointment of Mohamed El-Erian to succeed Jack Meyer as president and chief executive officer of the Harvard Management Company. Mohamed comes to us from PIMCO, the world’s largest emerging market fund, where he has served as a managing director. Prior to joining PIMCO in 1999, he spent 15 years at the International Monetary Fund.

    Meanwhile, we have just launched the search for a new Vice President for Finance, in light of Ann Berman’s plans to conclude her service next spring in order to fulfill her longstanding wish to live abroad six months of the year. In addition, I am pleased to welcome Clayton Spencer, who has excelled in her past role as Associate Vice President for Higher Education Policy, to the broader role of Vice President for Policy.

    The University is privileged to welcome Nan Keohane, one of America’s foremost leaders in higher education and the past president of Duke University and Wellesley College, as the newest member of the Harvard Corporation. Patti Saris, a distinguished federal judge in Boston, and Lee Pelton, the admired president of Willamette University, have assumed their roles as the senior officers of the Board of Overseers for 2005-06, serving respectively as president of the board and vice chair of its executive committee. And a committee comprising members of both governing boards is leading the search for a new member of the Corporation, to succeed Conrad Harper, whose devoted service to Harvard will be missed by all of us who worked with him. Communications may be directed in confidence to

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    We have great opportunities, and a great deal of work, ahead of us. I pledge my best efforts, and I know that the University will greatly benefit from all of yours. If you have thoughts on any of the issues raised here or any others, please be in touch by contacting

    With appreciation and best wishes,

    Lawrence H. Summers