FAS Dean Gay launches strategic planning process – Harvard Gazette

The study group delivered a report to Gay this semester recommending a vision for how to position FAS for academic excellence, innovation, and sustainability at scale. “I think the common premise of all of us working on FSG was a desire to enable FAS to be as nimble and innovative as possible in pursuing our teaching and research missions – attracting and retaining more early-career researchers and diverse faculty, exploring the most exciting new areas of research, regardless of how they fit into existing disciplinary categories, and creating the best possible learning environment for our students “Stein said. “We also need to have a better understanding of our financial resources and constraints, and work to allocate those resources in the most flexible and strategic way possible.

The faculty group’s work built on ongoing reviews of the Division of Arts and Humanities and SEAS divisional processes and operations, as well as ongoing work to refocus the graduate student experience at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Last year, Robin Kelsey, Dean of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Photography Shirley Carter Burden, began having conversations with faculty about the possibility of change within the division and adopting a model of 21st century teaching and learning that supports interdisciplinarity and new fields and changing student needs.

“FSG’s findings are very much in line with the thinking we’ve been doing in the arts and humanities,” Kelsey said. “My motivation was not financial efficiency, as important as that is. I wanted to know if we could do a better job supporting emerging fields, engaging students and young scholars, and preparing the arts and humanities to thrive in the mid-21st century. These conversations were incredibly compelling and convinced me that this was something the whole division needed to work on.

Similarly, at GSAS, Dean Emma Dench has spearheaded recent student-centered initiatives, including The Advising Project, designed to improve mentorship of masters and doctoral students, and a series of mental health surveys conducted in partnership with Harvard University Health Services. Over the next two years, Dench plans to engage the faculty and staff communities to develop a concurrent approach to admissions and articulate the fundamentals of how GSAS educates its students.

“We need intentionality in recruiting and training graduate students and greater attention to their well-being. This is an exciting opportunity to effect change for our current and future students, said Dench, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and Classics. “We really have to take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘What is a doctorate? that is to say in the 21st century?’ and “How have the types of thought leadership roles our alumni take on after graduation changed over time?”

In the immediate term, Gay will take the report’s recommendations to adopt a new economic budgeting model; appoint an expert to assist Departments, Centers, Divisions and SAF as a whole on issues related to earmarked funds; and develop a pilot program for more transparent and consistent costing and management of campus spaces. The strategic planning process, which should take place over the next three years and will involve all professors, is launched in parallel with a focus on better understanding local experience, priorities and the context surrounding teaching. higher education, faculty support and development, and academic communities.

“We ask big questions: what is the vision of our school? How do we build an SAF that empowers us as teachers and scholars, and that meets the needs of this generation and the next? — because we want to dream big,” Gay said. “I’m ready to dive in, and I hope my colleagues are too. Their ideas, their experience, their frustrations and their aspirations will be valuable and necessary for all of this to succeed. »


Louisa R. Loomis