The President’s Administrative Innovation Fund kicked off its third application period with an open house on Feb. 27. The fund, which began in 2016 as a One Harvard initiative, invites projects from staff members that offer innovative solutions to persistent administrative challenges across the University.
The fund’s goal is to enhance innovation and collaboration at Harvard and to support teams of administrators who share an interest in strengthening the impact of their work at the University. Over the first two years, there have been more than 100 applications from administrators in Schools and units.
“Harvard has exceptional staff members, and it has been inspiring to see them apply their creativity and talent to support our mission,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “Helping to foster opportunities for members of our community to find common ground outside of their immediate professional circles is an important part of harnessing the remarkable strengths that exist throughout the University.”
First-year funding recipients included a project to develop an allocation-innovation tool for complex student assignments, new training for financial and faculty support staff, and a means to connect data analysts across the University. This year’s project teams are working on a range of innovations, from flexible work environments to electronic ticketing for Commencement and building a central admissions database.
From the start, the fund supported projects to build the University’s capacity in accessibility. During the 2016‒2017 cycle, a project focused on augmenting the University’s accessibility-testing capabilities. This year, a team of colleagues from Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT), HarvardX, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University Disability Services, strategic procurement, and vendor management aimed to create a database centralizing information about the accessibility features of technological products and services purchased by the University. Staff members Kyle Shachmut, Michele Clopper, Bob Doyle, Chris Gambon, Joe Holewa, and Mildene Bradley recognized the need for a place in the procurement process — before products or services were bought — where key questions could be asked to assess the extent to which purchased technology meets accessibility standards.