Harvard freezes salaries, hiring

Harvard University froze faculty salaries and most searches in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as part of its plan to cut spending by $105 million to $125 million, top deans said in an e-mail message Monday.

These latest cost-cutting measures come one week after Harvard announced that its endowment fell 22 percent, or roughly $8 billion, between July and October. The world’s richest university may have to scale back or delay capital projects and take “a hard look” at hiring and compensation, Harvard President Drew Faust and Executive Vice President Ed Forst said in a joint letter last week.

Unlike Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League, Yale has not yet taken any steps in reaction to the financial meltdown. But that could soon change: The Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, is expected to discuss Yale’s financial condition when it meets later this week.

University President Richard Levin said he will make a statement next week about how the University is adjusting its budget to the financial crisis.

Provost Peter Salovey said last week that taking the extra time will help the University choose its course prudently.

Harvard, meanwhile, is acting now. Its Faculty of Arts and Sciences froze staff and administrative hiring earlier this month. Monday’s message, obtained and published Tuesday by the Harvard Crimson, went on to freeze faculty and non-union staff salaries, postpone tenure-track searches and limit visiting faculty appointments.

“We appreciate that many of these measures will be difficult for the faculty and we do not take these actions lightly,” said the letter, signed by six faculty deans. “Nonetheless, we will do all we can to ensure that our core mission of teaching and research can continue to thrive even in these difficult times.”

Even with the Harvard FAS hoping to avoid incremental expenses, such as raises or hires, it would still need to find a way to cut about $105 million from its spending, which is why the administration is starting by freezing raises and holding searches.

Michael Smith, dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and one of the signatories of the message, did not respond to a request for comment. On Friday, the university offered bonds worth $1.5 billion to finance the school’s debt.

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