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Dear Colleagues…

Dopo il precedente post, con la lettera del rettore di Harvard sulle scelte per far fronte alla crisi finanziaria, ecco come l’appello è stato raccolto da uno dei presidi (Faculty of Arts and Sciences). Anche qui, no drama, pragmatismo e chiarezza di idee. Blocco delle assunzioni si, ma senza bloccare il percorso di carriera dei ricercatori più giovani (tenure track); riduzione dei costi si, ma non con tagli indiscriminati, uguali per tutti; misure draconiane si, ma decise dopo aver raccolto suggerimenti e avendo ascoltato chiunque abbia buone proposte da avanzare. Insomma se la crisi non si può ignorare, non è però un buon motivo per rinunciare alle priorità di sempre: qualità e merito, per fare la differenza.

Dear Colleagues,

(…) As we discussed, the global financial crisis has likely resulted in
unprecedented losses in our endowment, and as we all saw last week, the market
continues to slide downward. Given our heavy reliance on endowment income, these
losses will have a major and long-lasting impact – one that will require
significant reductions in our annual expenses.  (…) This letter presents some of
the immediate measures that we are undertaking, answers some of the
questions that I have received, and briefly describes how we are moving forward
with planning. Our actions at this time are meant to minimize disruptions to the
FAS community, preserve the high quality of our teaching and research, and give us
time to plan.

Staff Hiring
Beginning immediately, all staff changes and searches are on hold. This applies
to all current or proposed postings, including proposals to fill vacant positions,
to create new positions, and to increase the FTE status of existing positions (…).
This new policy means that the goals associated with unfilled positions either will
not be pursued or will be pursued by reprioritizing the activities of our current
staff. We will all need to resist turning to the use of consultants and temporary
staff as substitutes for unfilled positions.

Faculty Searches
(…) I ask that the faculty consider canceling any open search if the priority
of the search changes or the quality of the applicant pool is not truly
extraordinary.

Tenure-track Faculty
Although there are many unknowns as we navigate through today’s challenging
financial situation, I want to assure you that the FAS is firmly committed to our
tenure-track system. Reviews for promotion will continue on schedule and will be
based solely on merit (scholarship, teaching, and service).

Timeline
(…) It is already clear that because of the structural differences among our
various programs, centers, departments, and Schools, the size of recommended cuts
will vary. We will not implement a single, one-size-fits-all, overall cut in our
annual expenses.

(…) I am pleased with how many ideas for cost-saving measures I have received
since the November Faculty Meeting. Please know that I have shared all the
suggestions I have received with the academic deans and with my senior staff so
that they may all benefit from your advice. To make the process of submitting
suggestions easier, I have established a dedicated email address. You are welcome
to submit your ideas to priorities@fas.harvard.edu.

(…) As I mentioned in the November Faculty Meeting, our approach to this
financial crisis must be based on a firm understanding of our core mission and
highest priorities. (…) Although some paths we had hoped to follow will not be
taken at present, we cannot stand still, or stop the pursuit of our most important
academic priorities. In spite of the challenges ahead, we will remain a uniquely
vibrant community whose commitment to academic excellence,
innovation, and discovery remains unsurpassed.

Sincerely yours,
Michael D. Smith