On February 18, 2009, Harvard University President Drew Faust sent an e-mail to Harvard affiliates outlining the difficulties facing the university in the present moment and going forward. Faust reaffirmed Harvard’s commitment to establishing the greatest academic community in the world and to expanding human knowledge through rigorous and creative scholarship, but warned that a delicate balance of short-term reaction and long-term planning will be necessary for Harvard to maintain its elite status.
With the endowment having contracted 30% in the past year, Harvard faces a budget crunch of significant proportions. The $1.4 billion annual distribution from the endowment to support University operations is 50% higher than it when the endowment last stood at its current level. Among the programs aimed at reducing the large salary costs incurred by the University are a freeze on pay for faculty and staff and a retirement program available to as many as 1,600 employees. In addition, the University will reassess its Allston construction projects to reduce overall cost or delay completion of projects in any way which can lessen the present cost. As a result, the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering will all occupy facilities in Cambridge temporarily.
While University expenses will be trimmed, undergraduate financial aid will remain strong. All financial aid initiatives currently in place will be carried forward. The undergraduate class of 2013 will see tuition and fees increase next year by 3.5% and will enter next year to a new curriculum. At the same time, there are over fifty full-time faculty positions currently open across the University, some left open by the departure of faculty for key positions in the White House.
In light of the ascendancy of Harvard alumni and faculty in public service, President Faust called for a renewed commitment to service of the common good at home and around the world. Furthermore, she emphasized that the wealth of Harvard has been and remains its intellectual greatness,