The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, facing a potential budget deficit, expects to further restrict its hiring policy.
In the fall, Harvard instituted a “soft freeze” hiring policy, which required administrative approval for all faculty hires. Now Harvard will likely add more restrictions for hiring, William Kirby, dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said in a letter to Harvard faculty. The restrictions, which Kirby told the Harvard Crimson reflect concern that the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences could face a budget deficit, come as many universities enact hiring restrictions and budget cuts. Despite tougher economic times, Yale does not expect major changes in hiring policies, Yale officials said.
“We have a de facto soft freeze on hiring,” Kirby said. “It is not a hard freeze but it is likely to get harder.”
Yale Provost Susan Hockfield said faculty and hiring practices have not come up in any budget discussions.
“I have to say that we have not even contemplated a hiring freeze,” she said. “I’m surprised, and its unfortunate when a university needs to take such measures.”
History chairman Jon Butler said department chairmen are more likely to make prudent requests for resources because of the new economic situation. Butler said departments will try to shift funds from existing resources.
“It’s probably not a time of great growth,” Butler said. “But I don’t feel it’s a time of great crisis.”
Butler said the History Department is proceeding with its hires as scheduled. He said the department has two offers out, is finishing a third search, and is discussing others.
“We have no indication at all that there is a problem or danger to any existing searches,” Butler said.
Department of English chairwoman Ruth Yeazell said a soft hiring freeze at Yale could be difficult for departments, like English, that rely on part-time staff. Yeazell said the English Department is trying to develop a program that would decrease the number of appointments by creating more permanent positions.
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokeswoman Andrea Shen said the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is in “a strong financial position” now, but the university is mindful of the slowing economy. She said the freeze is a precautionary measure.
Many other universities around the country have taken similar measures. In October Stanford University announced a staff hiring freeze, while Duke University announced it might consider cutting up to 50 faculty positions.
Roderick MacFarquhar, chairman of Harvard’s government department, said his department completed its junior faculty hires for the year and did not change its hiring practices.
“We’ll go to Dean Kirby and see how he feels,” MacFarquhar said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect hires greatly, though I think Dean Kirby is going to have to be very cautious.”
He said Kirby’s reviews of hiring proposals will allow him to evaluate all departments and determine which ones have the most pressing hiring needs. But he said the hiring freeze cannot be too “hard” because other universities are continuing to hire, and Harvard cannot afford to halt hiring if it wants to remain competitive.
Shen said Harvard remains committed to attracting good faculty members.
“Hiring and retaining superb faculty remains a very priority at [the Faculty of Arts and Sciences],” Shen said. “We will continue to pursue the very best teachers and scholars for our faculty.”