Faculty members at Harvard University are raising questions about a new fellows program that aims to hire at least 20 new Ph.D.‘s for one-year teaching stints in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Professors say the program could be detrimental to Harvard’s faculty if the program grows too large or becomes permanent, according to an article in The Harvard Crimson.
“It’s a fine program in economically straitened times,” classics professor Richard F. Thomas told The Crimson. “But one wouldn’t want to see a substitute in any way for legitimate ladder appointments.”
English professor Louis Menand told the student newspaper that he wondered whether the program was even in participants’ best interest, since fellows would be expected to focus mainly on teaching, rather than research, and would go back to pounding the pavement after just one year:
“It’s really a way to get inexpensive teaching,” [Menand] said. “We need to make sure it’s good for them and we’re not just using them.”
Meanwhile, another of Harvard’s cost-cutting moves is inspiring protests, according to an article on Open Media Boston (hat tip: University Diaries). The online-only publication reports that students and union members staged two protests last week against proposed staff layoffs at the university.
Jeff Carens, a library worker and representative of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, told Open Media Boston that he’s shocked that the world’s wealthiest university would even consider sacking its clerical workers, janitors, and other low-paid workers:
“We feel like Harvard has plenty of money. When I came here 20 years ago they had $4.5 billion in their endowment. Now they have $29 billion. To me, that’s a staggering record of capital accumulation. And they made some risky investments that made the endowment skyrocket during the boom times. … Predictably, in a downturn, those investments are going to take a hit. But they want us to pay for that. They want ordinary workers to pay for their investment strategies.”