In Letter, Faust Echoes Predecessor’s Priorities

As she celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday, University President Drew G. Faust sent a letter to the Harvard community, placing the undergraduate curricular review, expansion into Allston, interdisciplinary science initiatives, and financial aid for graduate students (see story, left) as her top priorities.

Faust’s list echoed those of her predecessor, Derek C. Bok, who set out to focus on the curricular review, Allston, and science policy during his interim term last year.

Faust, who took office on July 1, also outlined a theme that could figure as a defining mark of her presidency—“to work to become a university known more for bridges and less for walls.”

“One of my paramount hopes for the coming years,” she wrote, “is that, more and more, when all of us at Harvard think and talk about our endeavors, we will be describing not just an accumulation of discrete individual pursuits, but the efforts of people in different parts of the University working actively toward common ends.”

Her goal of unification, Faust said, also helped guide the seven major appointments she has made to fill vacancies in the leadership of several of Harvard’s schools and in Mass. Hall.

“They all bring to their new roles an impressive record of accomplishment as teachers, scholars, and academic leaders,” Faust wrote. “And they all share a commitment, with one another and with our other deans, not only to the success of their own faculties and schools, but to the future of Harvard as a whole.”

The newly appointed dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Michael D. Smith, will be in charge of overseeing the implementation of the College’s curricular review and the new general education reforms. That process should involve the resources of the whole University, Faust added.

“I hope we will bear in mind the question of how our undergraduate program can draw greater strength from the fact that Harvard College makes its home within Harvard University, with its matchless collection of schools, centers, libraries, laboratories, and museums,” she wrote.

While Faust has publicly emphasized her desire to build networks across the University since her appointment was announced in February, she has not yet announced any specific new initiatives she expects to launch to accomplish her goals.

Faust also applied the theme of collectivism to the University’s expansion into Allston.

As the University prepares to break ground on the first Allston science complex in the next few months, Faust encouraged her readers to consider future projects on the 215-acre campus as “an investment not merely in one school or another, in this program or that one, but in the common future of an institution whose vitality depends on new intellectual connections, new spaces in which to work and live, new ways of engaging each other and our neighbors.”

Faust also reiterated her commitment to improving the arts at Harvard, pointing to the New College Theater, which she called “an embodiment of our determination that the lively arts find an even livelier home at Harvard.”

—Staff writer Claire M. Guéhenno can be reached at

—Staff writer Laurence H. M. Holland can be reached at