Harvard Freezes Salaries and Suspends Faculty Searches

December 09, 2008

Facing projections of a 30-percent drop in its endowment, Harvard will freeze salaries for faculty members and nonunion staff members, suspend nearly all searches for tenure-track and tenured professors, and place restrictions on hiring instructional faculty members, The Harvard Crimson reported today.

The announcement, which comes a week after Harvard revealed that its endowment had lost at least $8-billion since June 30, was sent to department heads in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences yesterday and will be the subject of a faculty meeting today, the newspaper said.

Signed by Harvard’s academic deans, the letter estimates that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will need to reduce costs for the 2009 fiscal year by $105-million to $125-million, not including the “incremental costs” that the letter says will be cut.

While instructional faculty members would be hired only to fulfill “essential curricular needs,” the letter says, a degree of flexibility in hiring tenure-track and tenured faculty members will remain.

“There will be a small number of exceptions (selected with an eye toward minimizing costs and maintaining priorities) and, of course, internal promotions will continue as planned,” the letter says. “The FAS remains committed to a tenure-track system.”

A copy of the letter, which also announces the creation of a program “akin to a teaching postdoc” aimed at recent Ph.D.’s, is included in the Crimson article. —David Shieh