Fast Start

Although she will not move into the president’s office in Massachusetts Hall until July 1, President-elect Drew Gilpin Faust has launched her transition briskly. Drawing on her experience as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (in which capacity she has worked with Harvard’s other deans and senior admin-istrators on issues extending across the University), Faust quickly made several major personnel decisions and began the searches for important appointments—keys to getting her administration in place by the time she assumes office. She is also playing a vigorous role in reaching out to major constituencies, including alumni, and representing the University.

Justin Ide / Harvard News Office
President-elect Faust

Between her election as Harvard’s twenty-eighth president on February 11 and the end of that month, Faust made two especially significant decisions about members of her senior team. First, she announced that provost Steven E. Hyman, a neurobiologist, would remain in office. Hyman, widely reported to have been a candidate for the presidency himself, has led planning for the Allston campus and for the University’s interdisciplinary science initiatives (such as the program in computing described in "Science's 'Third Branch'"). With continuity in that role, the interrelated, intellectually complex, and enormously expensive Allston and science initiatives can proceed uninterrupted.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office
Steven E. Hyman
Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office
Donella Rapier
Justin Ide / Harvard News Office
Alan J. Stone

Days later, vice president for alumni affairs and development Donella Rapier announced that she would step down at the end of the academic year; she indicated to the Crimson that Faust wanted to have her own appointee in that position. During the past three fiscal years, while Rapier was vice president, the University raised $1.7 billion, in part reflecting large capital campaigns at the business and law schools (she had previously helped plan and launch the $600-million business-school fund drive). But academic planning for a multibillion-dollar Harvard capital campaign was deferred during the final two years of Lawrence H. Summers’s presidency, even as spending accelerated for expensive new laboratories and the faculty who would work in them—not to mention the bills to come for the Allston campus. Although fundraising was barely mentioned during the introduction of Faust as president-elect, momentum is clearly building for a campaign—and comparable efforts have been announced or are nearing the public phase at Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Stanford, and Yale.

In mid March, Faust announced that vice president for government, community, and public affairs Alan J. Stone, who had said he would step down on June 30, had agreed instead to continue to serve through the 2007-2008 academic year, and perhaps beyond. Stone’s staff manages the government relations critical to both regulatory review of Harvard’s building plans (see "Ready for Growth" and "Off the Fast Track") and lobbying for federal research support—of critical concern now, given stagnant funding for biomedical science.

At the same time, Faust plunged into the searches to fill decanal vacancies. In March, she met with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ executive Faculty Council and reconvened an advisory committee of 10 faculty members, originally appointed last year, to advance the search for a new FAS leader to succeed interim dean Jeremy R. Knowles. She is also working with Hyman to identify the successor to Harvard Medical School dean Joseph B. Martin, who steps down on June 30. (The Graduate School of Design deanship is being vacated as well, and the Radcliffe Institute will need a new leader, too.)

In her public role, Faust traveled to Toronto on March 23 for the latest installment in the Harvard Alumni Association’s long-planned “global series” of alumni-outreach events. The next week, she attended alumni receptions in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Closer to home, she was scheduled to be the honored guest at the tenth annual Harvard College Women’s Leadership Awards ceremony in late April; to address the HAA’s spring directors’ meeting on May 3; and to lead the presentation of awards for the Harvard Arts Medalist and others during the Arts First celebration on May 5.

Harvard Magazine will publish an in-depth article on President-elect Faust and her early plans for the University in the July-August issue.

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