Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day of Action! - March 5th

Save Harvard Jobs!
Say No to Layoffs - Harvard Has the Money!

Thursday March 5th

- 12:30pm, RALLY!
at Holyoke Center - Harvard Square - next to the Au Bon Pain
- 4pm, RALLY
at Holyoke Center

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Letter from Drew Faust

February 18, 2009

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

More than halfway through the academic year, I write again with some thoughts on our work together in these unusually challenging times.

Every morning's headlines, every day's conversations remind us that we remain in the midst of an economic downturn unlike any in decades. Uncertainty sometimes seems our only certainty. But what has become clear is that we are living through much more than a bump in the road. Our economic landscape has fundamentally changed.

For Harvard, as for many other colleges and universities, our challenge is to confront the new economic realities and intelligently adapt ourselves to them, while at the same time affirming and strengthening the enterprise of learning and discovery that lies at the heart of what we do.

Doing so will mean taking some difficult steps. At a time of new constraint, it will involve discipline and sacrifice. It will entail hard choices about what matters most -- not an easy exercise for a university like ours, where local autonomy is prized, where our many programs operate at a remarkable level of quality, and where we each have our own view of what is essential.

This challenge can seem particularly daunting after a period of extended growth and expansive opportunities. But we live in the moment that history has presented to us, and I am confident we will rise to this occasion as Harvard has so many times before. It is our collective obligation to face the situation with the right balance of short-term focus and long-term ambition, for ourselves and for the generations whose opportunities will be shaped by our choices.

Wherever we work or study within Harvard, whatever the demands of our present moment, we share enduring ideals. We are committed to attracting the most able and creative community of scholars in the world, and pursuing new knowledge and ideas with all the imagination and rigor we can summon. We are committed to opening our doors to students of the highest caliber, and offering them an education worthy of the talents they bring to us. We are committed, as part of a nation and a world vexed with complex problems, to seeking new understandings and solutions informed by serious research. And we are committed to upholding the values of free inquiry and expression, of excellence and innovation across the domains of knowledge that shape our university.


We confront sobering financial conditions as we pursue these commitments. As we reported in December, our planning for 2009-10 assumes that our endowment will have lost roughly 30% of its value in 2008-09 -- before subtracting the additional $1.4 billion that will go toward current operations. Such a significant decrease presents us with difficult tradeoffs -- all the more so when our other major revenue sources are also under strain. The endowment has come to support more than a third of our annual operating budget. The current yearly endowment distribution -- the dollars we take out of the endowment to support activities across the University -- is approximately 50% higher than it was when the endowment was last at the value we expect as of next June 30. Tinkering around the edges will not be enough.

I am grateful to faculty, staff, and students across Harvard who are working hard to consider how we can reduce budgets and how we can explore new ways of doing things that not only save costs but enhance our operations. These efforts will likely become more difficult, not less, as things move from plan to reality. What is more, our conscious avoidance of "one size fits all" solutions means that not everyone is going to be happy with every outcome.

Mindful that compensation accounts for roughly half of our annual university-wide expenses, the deans, the provost, and I have agreed that salaries for faculty and exempt staff will be held flat in the next academic year. In addition, we are this week launching a voluntary early retirement program for which some 1,600 of our staff members will be eligible.

Our planning includes an intensive, ongoing review of the University's portfolio of capital projects and a reconsideration of the pace and scale of our physical expansion in Allston. Our task is to make sure that we avoid overextending the University's near-term financial commitments, while assuring the vitality of our academic programs and respecting the important interests of our neighboring communities.

In a separate letter today (, I have described our intention to slow the construction of the Allston science complex and to reassess our plans beyond the current phase of construction. This is a difficult step, for both Harvard and our neighbors, but I am convinced it is a necessary one. From now until the end of the calendar year, we will complete the science complex's foundation and bring the structure to ground level -- a requirement under any scenario. Meanwhile, we will explore whether there are feasible ways to lessen the complex's cost, through design changes or other means. This approach will give us further time to consider, when the first phase of construction nears completion, whether reduced expense or improved economic conditions will enable us to proceed with above-ground construction on an adjusted pace, or whether we will pause construction after the foundation is complete.

As we recalibrate our near-range Allston plans, we will sustain our momentum in spurring cross-school and interdisciplinary science. We have been able to identify excellent alternative space for programs that had planned to occupy the Allston science complex upon its completion in 2011. Our new Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and the associated Harvard Stem Cell Institute, will take up residence in renovated space in Cambridge -- indeed sooner than would have been possible in Allston. This will allow our extraordinary group of stem-cell scientists from the FAS, the Medical School, and our affiliated hospitals to come together more rapidly; it will also help assure that our undergraduates have ready access to work at one of science's most promising frontiers. A second major cross-school initiative, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering -- launched with an extraordinary gift from Hansjoerg Wyss -- will make its initial home in Longwood, with additional space in Cambridge near SEAS and FAS science departments. This new venture at the nexus of engineering and the life sciences has already begun its exciting work.

Planning for other Allston development will continue, but it will happen at a slower pace. I have asked our planning team to develop options for interim improvements to Harvard's existing properties, and to continue to engage in community improvement efforts in Allston-Brighton. As we gauge our capacity to mount new projects over time, we will also aim to think in more integrated ways about the University's space needs in Allston, Cambridge, and Longwood. No less than before, what we do in Allston remains a vital part of Harvard's future. While the economic downturn necessitates a change of pace, we remain committed to a long-term vision of Allston that will take full advantage of the historic opportunity it represents -- as a home for innovative education and research, and as a crossroads for programs that would benefit from closer interplay.


The economic crisis, of course, has stressed the resources of many of our students and their families. With that in mind, we are working to make sure we restrain growth in tuition and fees for next year, while affirming our robust commitment to financial aid. Our various graduate and professional schools plan to maintain their strong student aid and fellowship budgets for 2009-10. For undergraduates in Harvard College, the package of tuition and fees will increase by 3.5% next year -- at the same time we carry forward in full the financial-aid initiatives we have introduced in recent years to ensure that a Harvard College education is affordable for families across the income spectrum. Since 2004, we have doubled the amount we spend on undergraduate financial aid. (See the related news release at

We have received a record-setting number of applications for the College class of 2013 -- more than 29,000 for a class that will number roughly 1,650 students. Next fall's freshmen will arrive to a new General Education curriculum, replacing the Core, and I appreciate the efforts of the many faculty who are working to populate the revised curricular framework with a new generation of compelling courses.

Following a number of years of significant increases in the number of faculty university-wide, growth has slowed, but searches remain in progress to fill more than fifty open faculty positions across Harvard. They range from South Asia studies to human genetics, from urban planning to contemporary Islam, from fluid mechanics to law and public health. We continue to plan for intensified efforts in select areas of academic priority, both within schools and for the University more broadly. As president, I will continue to devote special attention to those areas that enable Harvard to mobilize its extraordinary intellectual resources across fields and across schools -- areas like energy and the environment and global health, which involve students, faculty, and staff from every part of Harvard in activities ranging from courses for undergraduates to research activities in sites around the globe.

In December, the University's Task Force on the Arts issued a report that calls for Harvard to make arts practice and performance an "integral part of the cognitive life of the University." I urge you to read the report, and especially the eloquent introductory statement about the place of the arts in a research university and in a liberal arts education (see Many of the task force's recommendations depend less on enhanced resources than on a rethinking of the curricular role of the arts and a more positive embrace of the many types of arts practice and activity that already occur on our campus. Thus, we are working to bring a number of the recommendations to fruition soon, and others will unfold over time. Yo-Yo Ma's remarks and performance on February 6 -- part of a two-day event highlighting opportunities and encouraging careers in the arts and the humanities -- remind us what a singular source of inspiration and insight the arts can be during uncertain times.

We are also considering how to make the most of a moment in which interest in public service is on the rise. A remarkable number of Harvard faculty -- in law, economics, science, health policy, and other fields -- have been chosen to serve in the new administration. Harvard alumni will hold an array of senior posts in the White House, the Cabinet, and beyond. And it was striking to watch an inauguration in which three Harvard graduates -- the President, the First Lady, and the Chief Justice of the United States -- stood together to mark a historic transition in our nation's leadership. The new administration has made clear that science and knowledge are central tools of government and public policy. We at Harvard have critical contributions to make in such a time, to ensure, as our new dean of public health, Julio Frenk, recently put it, that the "power of ideas" has its fullest impact on "the ideas of power." David Ellwood, dean of the Kennedy School, describes the present moment as an almost unprecedented opportunity for Harvard to contribute both to public service and to public solutions in a time of global crisis. We must work to help our students pursue careers that aim to serve the common good, in government and other fields. No less, as we face our own hard choices, we must keep in mind how our work here -- across many fields of knowledge -- can best contribute to informed debate on the hard choices facing the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.


In a time of dramatic and often disquieting change, it is important that all of us remember the enduring purposes of universities and the enduring legacy of this one in particular. We are a community of distinguished scholars, talented students, and dedicated staff -- teachers and learners defined by our ideas and discoveries, not by our financial resources. Let us keep those purposes foremost in our minds as we pursue our work together in changing ways for changing times.

Drew Faust

Harvard To Trim Custodial Staff

Harvard To Trim Custodial Staff
Published On 2/18/2009 2:26:02 AM
Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard is quietly planning to lay off some subcontracted custodians in an effort to reduce operating costs, drawing consternation from union organizers who represent University workers.

The moves come as Harvard seeks to reduce costs through clerical staff buyouts, which officials hinted could be followed by layoffs as the University grapples with a dramatic reduction in the value of its endowment.

American Cleaning Company—a subcontractor that services Harvard Medical School—has been told by HMS custodial directors that it will have to lose 13 of its 27 workers by April 1.

OneSource, another subcontractor that cleans properties administered by Harvard Real Estate Services—which leases and manages housing for University affiliates—has been asked by Harvard to cut contract costs by 30 to 40 percent, according to University spokesman Kevin Galvin.

Because of low overhead costs in the custodial industry, the request is likely to translate into hefty staff reductions at OneSource as well, although Harvard has not explicitly directed OneSource to reduce staff, said Daniel B. Becker, an organizer for Service Employees International Union Local 615.

Galvin said Harvard notified SEIU 615—which represents the custodians—of the planned cuts in January. The University later decided to delay the layoffs until April to allow SEIU to discuss the reductions.

According to Becker, the SEIU has "heard that a host of other layoffs lay looming [at Harvard], and not just for the janitorial staff."

American Cleaning Company general manager Henry Valerio said HMS custodial services requested he provide a roster of his workers, listed by seniority, from which they could choose 13 workers to lay off. Valerio said he is not yet sure which workers will be laid off.

HMS also employs 13 custodial workers directly, but these employees will not be affected by the cuts, according to Becker. SEIU represents nearly all of Harvard's 1,000 janitors and security personnel, many of whom are indirectly employed through subcontractors.

Harvard spokesman Galvin said the cuts are the result of the "unprecedented fiscal situation [at] Harvard" that is forcing the University to scrutinize its operating costs and capital construction plans.

He added that in addition to pursuing personnel cuts, HMS and HRES custodial directors have reexamined the frequency with which offices and building spaces are cleaned. While highly visible areas such as labs and washrooms will continue to be cleaned each day, other locations—such as offices, stairwells, and common spaces—may only be cleaned twice a week or weekly.

Becker said that SEIU is working closely with other unions and students to craft a response to the cuts, and that Harvard should avoid such practices because of its wealth and non-profit status.

"We understand that times are tough, but Harvard has the money," he said.

SEIU 615, which represents 16,000 workers throughout New England, has long advocated for living wages for janitorial workers. Earlier in the decade, union members and students used a variety of demonstration tactics—including sit-ins, rallies, and hunger strikes—to successfully negotiate for raises and benefits from Harvard.

Bill Jaeger, director of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, called the firings "horrible" and said that unions at Harvard need to pool their resources to ensure that the University is "cutting extravagances and slowing down growth as much as possible" to ensure the welfare of workers and programs.

"We haven't planned anything specific in connection with our sister unions, but we're keeping in touch," Jaeger said. "We're definitely all supportive of each other's struggles, and we're all facing some of the same kinds of concerns."

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at

No Layoffs Campaign Meeting - Thurs Feb 19

Hello All,

Harvard administrators have been giving the impression that the University is practically broke, and must cut jobs. After years of being told that Harvard's massive endowment has nothing to do with our compensation, employees are now informed that our salaries depend on the endowment, and that the endowment has taken a severe plunge.

To put things in perspective, when our union won its first contract nearly 20 years ago, the endowment was about $4.5 billion, and it's roughly $29 billion now! Harvard remains the richest University on earth. Harvard has "non-profit" status, which means it doesn't have to pay the taxes businesses normally pay. And the University continues to receive income from national and private research grants, rents, gifts (not all gifts go to the endowment), and tuition.

Make no mistake, Harvard wants to use any drop in the huge endowment's rate of increase as an excuse to cut jobs, and make the remaining staff work harder for the same paychecks. A coalition of HUCTW members, members of other campus unions, non-union workers, and students is organizing to oppose layoffs.

Please join us this Thursday, 2/19, at 12:30 p.m., at Phillips Brooks House. We will be planning a day of action on March 5, to feature a rally and other actions to press the University not to cut jobs.
We will meet in the Parlor (first door on your left as you enter the building).
Hope to see you there!

In Solidarity,

Geoff Carens, Union Representative, HUCTW/AFSCME local 3650

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dean Smith email 2/17/2009, "voluntary" early retirement

Dear FAS Faculty and Staff,

Today detailed information about the University's Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program announced last week is being shared with
all those who are eligible to participate. I would like to take this opportunity to put the program in context for the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences and to express my gratitude to all those long-serving members of the staff who will now consider whether this program is right for them.

The precipitous decline in the national economy has hit every household, business and nonprofit, and Harvard has not been immune. Our plans
and emerging actions assume that the endowment will be down 30 percent this year and that we must begin to adjust to this new fiscal reality
immediately. As you know from the activities in your own departments over the last few months, we are attempting to reduce overall spending
while still investing in the vital academic programs that will ensure FAS's excellence in teaching and research for years to come. University
leadership, working closely with the Council of Deans, has taken similar actions. The voluntary early retirement program is one such University
initiative that aims to help the Schools in their efforts to cut costs while minimizing impact on the workforce.

As we consider spending cuts in the FAS, we are acutely aware of the importance of our people: the faculty, staff, and students. Through the
efforts of our staff, the FAS is able to further cutting-edge research, support innovative pedagogy, and develop the unique learning environment
that defines who we are and enables us to make our contribution to the world, both through scholarship today and through training of tomorrow's
leaders. For staff's service, their dedication, their contributions to the many activities of the FAS, I am deeply grateful.

I am pleased that the University is in a position to offer an early retirement plan for those who are eligible and who may want to take
advantage of it. In addition to the benefits normally provided under Harvard's staff retirement programs, the package will include a lump-sum
retirement incentive, a monthly supplement to "bridge" early retirees to Social Security at age 62, and eligibility for retiree medical coverage.
Personalized information is being delivered to eligible employees in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences beginning today. Eligible staff
will have 45 days from the day of receipt of their packets to decide whether to opt in. Basic information about the program, including
a schedule of informational and financial counseling sessions and a list of contacts for questions or concerns, has been posted on HARVie
( Though the University's program is for staff only, we are considering whether it might be appropriate also to
offer a retirement program for faculty.

With more than half of our $1 billion annual operating budget dedicated to compensation costs, it is clear that realigning FAS for the future
will depend on some changes to our current workforce. Let me assure you that we continue to explore every option available in order to limit
staff changes forced solely by our budget challenges. We hope that the level of participation in the voluntary early retirement program will
mitigate the need for further staff reductions. Such considerations will be made after the program has closed and results are assessed.

These are difficult times for everyone, and we understand that deciding whether to participate in this program will be a major decision for
many of our employees. Harvard is committed to providing our employees with the information and retirement counseling that they need to fully
consider the opportunity for early retirement provided by this program.


Michael D. Smith

article in the Harvard Crimson (11/30/2008) interviewing Dean Smith about Harvard's impending cuts and attacks


Union To Meet With Dean Smith

Published On 11/30/2008 11:32:19 PM

<> and ESTHER I. YI

Crimson Staff Writers

In the few days since Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith responded to mounting financial concerns <> with a freeze on
staff hiring <>, officials of a union representing hundreds of FAS staffers have been working to meet with him to minimize the fallout from the decision.

A representative of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers-a 5800-person organization that draws about a third of its membership from FAS-said yesterday that union
officials were organizing a meeting with Smith for this week, and would look to emphasize the importance of staff support to the educational mission while exploring alternative cost-cutting measures.

"Reducing staffing levels in our view has a direct effect on the quality of education and research," said Bill Jaeger, HUCTW's director. "When you cut staffing levels, you're putting the quality of the educational and research enterprise in some jeopardy."

Jaeger also said that HUCTW representatives would look to clarify the precise nature of the measures FAS is taking. In a letter to faculty and select officials last Monday announcing the
staff hiring freeze, Smith offered little information about the longevity or intensity of the hiring halt, saying only that it would extend to all positions except those deemed "critical."

"We would deem a lot of positions to be critical, so there's a lot that needs to be figured out," Jaeger said.

"I think its a good time for us to be reminding people that the staff are partners with the faculty in carrying out research and delivering education," he said. "And in some areas of the student experience, I don't think its presumptuous to say that the staff play a more hands on role than the faculty do."

Contacted for comment yesterday, Smith wrote in an e-mail that he had already received a message from HUCTW leadership last week, and was "look[ing] forward to speaking directly with their leadership."

But the FAS dean is only one of HUCTW's targets as it looks to shed more light on the implications of the current financial crisis for the University's staff members.

"From our union's point of view, FAS is only one of the schools of the University," Jaeger said. "It's a big and challenging set of financial problems, and it's also one that might be able to be resolved without these cuts, and we're working with University leaders to put that forward."

FAS staff do not appear to be universally alarmed by the recent freeze, which did not affect any currently occupied positions.

Peter Arvidson, who works as a coordinator in the Molecular and Cellular Biology department, wrote in an e-mail that with no layoffs currently on the table, he took Smith's announcement of
the freeze as a reassuring indication that the dean intended to focus on current staff.

"As a staff member I feel you just have to keep doing your job and do it in an excellent manner," Arvidson wrote. "We are all in some way integral to the success of the University. You can
make your staff position 'critical' by doing it well."

Despite Arvidson's optimism, Jaeger did not rule out the specter of future layoffs.

"It's a good time to be in a union," he said, before noting that in such a large institution, it would be foolish to expect to avoid firings entirely.

"There's never been a month in my 20 years at the union where nobody got laid off at the university," he said, referring to normal fluctuations in employment. "Saying 'no layoffs' is
an oversimplification, so we're going to make sure that there is as little impact as possible on our members because of this."

-Staff writer Christian B. Flow can be reached
-Staff writer Esther I. Yi can be reached at

email to FAS community, January 23, 2009

To FAS Faculty and Staff,

The last months have been very difficult ones for our community as we each
grapple personally and professionally with the local effects of the global
financial crisis
. My letters to you over the fall outlined the size and the
nature of the considerable financial challenge we face. I am pleased to now be
able to share with you early markers of progress toward meeting that challenge
- progress that I hope will encourage a reemergence of the spirit of excitement
and optimism for the future that normally radiates from our campus.

As one of our perceptive faculty members commented to me recently, "The global
financial crisis put us, in simple but accurate terms, out of balance. Not only
out of balance in budget, but out of balance in not previously having faced such
a situation." With the New Year, our institutional balance begins a welcome
return. I see this in the carefully considered plans we have received from
departments, centers, and other units for rebalancing our budgets. I see this
even more clearly in the broad, creative, and coordinated thinking occurring
across all parts of the FAS.

Although it is never easy to reconfigure or disengage from worthwhile
activities, especially ones in which time and resources have been invested,
circumstances force us to do so, and we are doing this thoughtfully and well. I
appreciate the fortitude and dedication to the institution I have seen from the
FAS community in this effort over the past months.

A great many departments and other major units have taken immediate action to
reduce expenses and plan for the further savings needed to meet our FAS-wide
goal of reducing our total expenses by 15% over the next couple of years.
(Reaching this goal would allow us to live within the limits imposed by the
expected 30% investment losses in our endowment, given that slightly more than
50% of the total annual income to the FAS comes from the value of our
endowment.) Many members of our community have also proposed innovative ways to
address the $100-$130M shortfall in unrestricted funds projected for fiscal year
2010. For all of this painful work, I am truly grateful.

Based on the planning documents and other information being produced by the
departments, centers, and other units of the FAS, the deans are working closely
with me to develop by the end of January what I expect will be an "80% FAS-wide
plan" for reaching our cost-reduction goal. I refer to it as an 80% plan
because we will likely not have reached our total expense-reduction goal by the
end of January and because we will not have had time by then to vet all details
and implications of the unit-level plans. Still, a partial FAS-wide plan at
this point in time will help us to produce the FY 2010 budget. It will also
help us to draft a set of recommendations that the deans and I can vet with the
Priorities Committee, Caucus of Chairs, Faculty Council, and others. I expect
that we will produce a finalized FAS-wide plan later in the spring semester.

Beyond the immediate actions being taken locally within departments and other
FAS units, we are also moving forward on several FAS-wide initiatives, a number
of which were submitted as suggestions to For
example, the Priorities Committee reviewed and encouraged the FAS to accept a
proposal to change the set points for heating and cooling of our buildings to
match those recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and
Air-Conditioning Engineers. You will soon hear about the details of this
two-degree change (to 68 degrees at this time of year) from your local building
managers. We expect a savings of more than $600,000 a year from this change, and
it will also help us to achieve nearly 30% of the FAS Greenhouse Gas Reduction
for next year.

Although the change in temperature set points will affect all of us equally, the
final set of coherent recommendations we accept from unit-level plans being
developed today will not result in equal cuts in all areas. Not all units have
the same capacity to absorb cuts, nor is it wise for us to reduce everyone
equally if continued excellence is our goal. Furthermore, we remain committed
to certain priorities, such as the official launch of our new Program in
General Education that is scheduled for the upcoming fall semester. Other
timelines, such as the pace of development in Allston, are being assessed and
adapted to our new financial situation.

Significant and undoubtedly equally painful work remains in front of us, but the
first step is in many ways the most difficult. Through this important step, we
have demonstrated and strengthened a trust in each other and in the
organization. We started building this trust and a new transparency in the
organization before this financial crisis, and the dividends of those early
efforts are abundantly evident today. Through a continuous focus on our
foremost priorities - excellence in teaching, excellence in research, and
excellence in training future generations of academic and world leaders - and
an ever-growing trust in each other, we will emerge from this unprecedented
crisis more transparent, with clearer priorities, with more collaboration
between units and departments. We will then be ready to seize opportunities
that present themselves even in these difficult times.

As we rise to meet the financial challenge before us, I am encouraged to
remember, as I hope you do, how very fortunate we are at Harvard to be
surrounded by colleagues who shape the nation's and the world's intellectual
landscape today and by the students who will shape it tomorrow. We are
fortunate that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the larger Harvard
community are rich in the intellectual capital and cross-disciplinary
cooperation being described in Washington as critical to the future of our
country and the world. Members of the Harvard community can and will bring
enormous energy to these discussions and will no doubt offer exciting solutions
to pressing problems facing our nation and our world. Our ideas are our strength
and will collectively take us through this difficult time to a brighter future.

Sincerely yours,

Michael D. Smith