FAS to Vote On Schedule Changes, Hear Council Election Report


The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will vote on a proposal Tuesday to add two class start times to the new academic schedule rolled out at the beginning of the fall semester.

The Faculty previously discussed the potential change at its last meeting in November when FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke presented a proposal to add these class times so students would have more time to eat lunch. If approved, faculty members could officially offer classes beginning at 12:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. in addition to the current slate of options.

In October, Harvard University Dining Services extended dining hall hours by 30 minutes to accommodate the new academic schedule as many seminars are scheduled to meet from 12 2:45 pm, overlapping entirely with the lunch hours in the undergraduate dining halls. The 12 upperclassmen residential Houses and Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining hall, now open at 11:30 a.m. instead of 12 noon.

In addition to the schedule proposal, David L. Howell, professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, will present a report on behalf of a committee of the Faculty Council, FAS’s highest governing body. In November 2015, the Faculty voted to amend the council’s election procedures with the requirement that FAS form a committee to review the electoral changes after three years. Howell, who serves as chair of the review committee and is a member of the council, will present the group’s findings at the Faculty meeting.


Previously, council elections required voters to rank their preferences among a large number of candidates, and the votes were subsequently counted in rounds. The system was deemed “confusing” and “unnecessarily complicated,” according to an April 2015 report. After the release of the report criticizing the old system, the Faculty adopted a new voting system for the council.

The changes have been successful and have led to more nominations and higher voter turnout among Faculty members, according to the report.

“The aim of the reform was to simplify the election procedures (and thereby boost voter turnout) while encouraging a diverse range of colleagues to stand for election to the Council. It worked,” the report states. “We recommend that the current procedures remain in place."

Under the current system, any Faculty member who receives at least three nominations qualifies automatically for election. After the reform of the policies, the report says the FAS dean no longer had to recruit candidates.

Although the report does not recommend any changes to the Faculty Council election policies, it does propose two suggestions. First, the report suggests that the Faculty “convene” a group each year of junior non-ladder faculty to participate in FAS governance with a liaison member who attends Faculty Council meetings.

Second, the report suggests that the FAS divisional deans, along with the deans of the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, not serve on the council, which “is a written version of an unwritten rule.”

At the Faculty meeting, the body will also vote to approve a preliminary announcement of Harvard Summer School courses for 2019.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22