Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crimson Editorial About FAS Spending

Smith’s Senseless Spending

Increasing salaries for professors is not the best use of funds
Last week, Faculty of Arts Dean Michael D. Smith announced he would lift the salary freezes placed on faculty and staff last winter by providing two percent merit-based raises to professors and increasing stipends for graduate students by three percent. The Harvard community has not been given a brief on the state of the budget since Sept. 15, so we are unsure of whether the announcement is a sign of budget security or an exception to the FAS policy of late that dictates trimming spending wherever possible. Regardless, Dean Smith’s spending decisions are misdirected. Given the numerous cuts the university has faced since the unfortunate implosion of the economy and subsequent drop in endowment value, several areas of the College need future funds more desperately than professors and graduate students.

We understand the College’s desire, which we share, to attract and retain the best faculty to Harvard in order to protect the quality of research and academics here, and we certainly recognize the value of monetary incentives. That said, we doubt that a modest raise of two percent will do much to keep professors from leaving or spark any noticeable improvements to the Harvard academic experience. Additionally, as one graduate student pointed out, the three percent stipend increase amounts to more funds for groceries but is unlikely to convince anyone to enroll in Harvard’s graduate program. Moreover, we hope that the deciding factor for why one ought to pursue an advance degree at Harvard is something other than the fact that it pays more than at other schools. Professors, moreover, have countless incentives to stay at Harvard besides economic ones.

The announcement that no additional funding will be cut from the Harvard College libraries is great news. We hope that, in the future, funds secured amidst changing budget structures will include similar measures. With any luck, the FAS’s new interest in reinstating secure spending policies will include reabsorbing laid-off staff members or reinstating cut hours as part of an effort to return services to the College and the university as a whole. The funds being directed toward professors and graduate students would conceivably have a bigger impact on the larger Harvard community if applied to initiatives such as bringing back hours in libraries and the Bureau of Study Council, serving hot breakfast, increasing hours for students who hold jobs on campus, and transitioning out of the hour reductions and furloughs many staff members face.

Harvard professors are currently the highest paid in the country, according to a report by the American Association of University Professors. When compounded with the level of prestige attendant to professorship here, most professors are deeply contented to be on the faculty of Harvard University. Similarly, many students are already eager to earn a graduate degree here; providing extra incentives need not be our priority right now. While the goal of preserving the quality of teaching and research at Harvard is an essential one, these raises will have little impact. Instead, Dean Smith should have directed FAS funds toward returning staff and services—spending for which the student benefits are much more certain.

HUCTW Election Results

On December 8, 2009, HUCTW workers voted in the few elections that were contested for Union Representative and Executive Board.  The slate that was put together by the No Layoffs Campaign (about which you can still find information about on this blog), did as well as could be expected: Geoff Carens, Emeka Onyeagoro and Phebe Eckfeldt were all elected as Union Reps. (Official list of winning candidates can be found here:

Despite a severe lack of resources to campaign with (including a lack of time off), over 200 people voted for one of the No Layoffs Campaign's three candidates for executive board, and while the margins were not close, this shows a significant number of HUCTW members who support these ideas.

This was a huge opportunity to reach out to Harvard workers about the No Layoffs campaign and its firm opposition to layoffs, budget cuts and work load increases.  We spoke to many of our co-workers who shared our concerns.

FAS Sees Light at End of Fiscal Tunnel

Dean Smith Presents Positive Picture of FAS Finances at Faculty Meeting
Gomes makes case for faculty membership on the Corporation

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith delivered a notably optimistic financial outlook for FAS yesterday, though the University’s largest school faced a projected $110 million annual deficit as of Sept. 15.
“I believe we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Smith said at yesterday’s Faculty meeting. “We are not done by any means yet, but it is also a start to resolve some of these questions and theoretically give some comfort to people about the direction of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.”

Meanwhile, University Provost Steven E. Hyman sought to alleviate some professors’ concerns that the Task Force on University Libraries—which released a wide-ranging blueprint for overhauling Harvard’s library system in November—is focused on change solely in the context of cutting costs.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Workers, Students Rally Against Layoffs

Workers, Students Rally Against Layoffs
Union members and supporters express discontent with budget cuts
Published: Thursday, December 03, 2009
Rally for Workers

Harvard workers and their supporters rally outside of the Holyoke Center yesterday evening. Rally participants chanted slogans and held signs that urged Harvard to rehire laid-off workers.

Several dozen Harvard employees and students rallied outside the Holyoke Center last night, protesting the budget cuts that may dim the holiday season for some University staff.