Faculty of Arts and Sciences to Consider Starting Faculty Senate Planning Process


Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences is expected to discuss a resolution on May 7 that — if passed — would mark their first concrete step toward forming a University-wide faculty senate.

The proposed resolution would commit the FAS to electing delegates for a “planning body” tasked with designing the senate, which an informal working group of faculty has been pushing for over the last few weeks.

Since the FAS Rules of Procedure prevent substantive measures from being introduced and voted on at the same meeting, the group of sponsors also plans to introduce a resolution calling for a May 14 special meeting, at which the FAS would vote on whether to elect delegates.

Though the FAS’ Office of the Secretary typically shares meeting agendas the Friday before the meeting, a document containing the two resolutions was obtained by The Crimson prior to the agenda’s release.


The group pushing for the senate, which spans all nine faculties, began circulating their proposal and related documents on April 9. The files, sent to hundreds of faculty members, asked the schools to select delegates for a faculty senate planning body — or pick a process for doing so — by May 15.

The planning body would then be tasked with determining the potential faculty senate’s structure and bylaws, aiming to complete its work by the start of 2025. The group would include twelve representatives from the FAS: three from each division — Arts and Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences — and three from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In total, the body would comprise 37 members from across Harvard’s faculties.

The resolutions are expected to be jointly sponsored by University Professor Danielle S. Allen, Government professors Melani C. Cammett and Ryan D. Enos, Psychology professor Mina A. Cikara, Bioengineering and Applied Physics professor Kevin K. “Kit” Parker, Sociology professor Christopher Winship, and History professor Kirsten A. Weld, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology professor Mansi Srivastava.

The group plans to host two Zoom town halls on May 9 to discuss the proposal, per Allen. These meetings would come after initial discussion but prior to any final vote.

The FAS is not the only faculty considering the proposal.

According to Allen, discussions of faculty senate planning have also been scheduled at faculty meetings at both the Graduate School of Design and the School of Public Health.

Though the exact format has yet to be determined, the concept of a faculty senate has garnered some skepticism from top University officials.

During a rare Tuesday FAS town hall, interim University Provost John F. Manning ’82 suggested that FAS faculty should consider whether they want to be subject to University-wide standards set by non-FAS representatives.

If the two resolutions pass, the FAS will select its representatives to the planning body using the usual Faculty Council election procedures, through which each division would elect its three delegates. The planning body would be subject to the same “two-seat rule” as the Council, with no more than two members of each department allowed to sit on the group.

Election procedures would be arranged in coordination with the Secretary of the Faculty, Susan L. Lively, according to Enos.

While the FAS periodically holds town halls in addition to its regular monthly meetings, the last time a special FAS meeting was convened was 2005, according to The Crimson’s archives. At the time, the FAS was in the midst of a confrontation with then-Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers.

If the FAS votes to schedule the May 14 meeting, the vote taken there could usher in — or quash — another era of change for the faculty.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at Follow him on X @neilhshah15.