The HIID Aftermath

As of July 1, the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) was officially closed, an action announced in January (see "HIID, Dismantled," March-April, page 76). Nonetheless, a fraction of its international development work continues, and of its 159 employees a year ago, 50 remain at Harvard in some capacity.

Some changes are structural: HIID's public-health group, for example, will decamp this fall to a new center for international health at Boston University. The public-finance group is entertaining offers from both the Kennedy School of Government and Duke University, although leaning toward the former. Some of HIID's academics have relocated to the Graduate School of Education. Three have found new jobs at the Center for International Development, the Kennedy School research center funded by transfers of up to $13 million from HIID's endowment and headed by former HIID director Jeffrey Sachs, Stone professor of international trade. "As with any process of consolidation and downsizing, there are going to be any number of people who do not land on their feet," says Joseph Stern, a former HIID fellow. "Most of us who had academic appointments have found a place to go."

Stern, for example, is now a senior development fellow at the Kennedy School. That school's newly created Overseas Program Office (OPO) has an administrative unit with 10 full-time employees to provide financial and contractual support, plus risk-management oversight, for overseas development projects based there. Several Kennedy School centers have taken on some former HIID projects and have typically offered positions to the overseas advisers already involved with those projects. Stewart Uretsky, formerly assistant director for finance at HIID, now directs the OPO. For many employees, he says, "the [HIID] human resources department tried to turn this event into an opportunity, a chance to move forward with their careers."

Donna McGee, HIID's assistant director for human resources, who left Harvard at the end of July, spearheaded the effort to find employees new positions; Stern calls her work in this regard "very imaginative." "We [at HIID] were very centralized and tended to operate like a small business," McGee notes. "The academic pace is slower, and the decision-making models are different. It took a while." She says the University has been "very supportive with resources for career development and training--classes, seminars in résumé writing, interviewing techniques." One staff member who took advantage of the opportunity is John Caetano, a native of the Azores who formerly ran HIID's mailroom. HIID paid for a two-month course in accounting for Caetano, who is now an accounting assistant at the OPO.

Harvard tried to retain HIID staff where possible with financial incentives, but that did not always suffice. Marlene Mack, an administrative assistant for HIID's contracts office, declined what she calls a "much downsized" Kennedy School version of the job she held at HIID. "When the whole institute you work for is shut down, it makes you pause and re-think your career path," Mack says. "There's some small sense of disillusionment. A lot of people put a lot of effort into HIID, and the institute did a lot of good around the world--it just wasn't fully appreciated."


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