HMS Profs Defending Benefits Changes at Meeting Violated FAS Procedures

UPDATED: Novemeber 5, 2014, at 1:20 a.m.

Two Harvard Medical School professors who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in defense of the University’s new health care policy were present in violation of FAS policies.

According to the FAS rules of faculty procedure, the “Dean of the Faculty, in consultation with the elected members of the Docket Committee, may invite guests to attend meetings of the Faculty as observers. Special permission of the Dean, in consultation with the Docket Committee, is required before guests may be invited to speak.”

But Classics professor Emma Dench, vice-chair of the docket committee, said that the committee was not asked whether the two HMS professors, Joseph Newhouse and Barbara J. McNeil, could attend the meeting or speak.

“I can confirm that we were not consulted about this matter and did not know that [non-FAS] professors would be speaking tonight,” Dench wrote in an email.


Another docket committee member said he did not remember being consulted.

In consultation with FAS Dean Michael D. Smith’s office, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 invited McNeil and Newhouse, both members of the University Benefits Committee, to Tuesday’s meeting, according to University spokesperson Jeff Neal.

Smith, while a member of the docket committee, is not elected to it but serves as its chair as FAS dean. FAS policies indicate that “elected” members of the committee be consulted.

Other than Garber, the two visitors were the only speakers at Tuesday’s meeting in support of the University’s health care policy. In a unanimous vote, the Faculty called on University President Drew G. Faust and the Corporation to reverse the changes to the benefits plans.

Faust made a point of calling on the two Medical School professors before some members of FAS who were speaking out against the new policy, alternating between supporters and critics.

At least two FAS professors—Classics professor Richard F. Thomas and Sociology professor Christopher Winship—wanted to speak at Tuesday’s meeting but did not have time, even after the meeting was extended by 20 minutes.

University professor Marc W. Kirschner was present and spoke in favor of the motion reversing the policy, though History professor Mary D. Lewis made a point of saying Kirschner was attending the meeting in his capacity as University professor—an appointment that spans all of Harvard’s faculties—during her initial motion.

—Staff writer Dev A. Patel can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dev_a_patel.

—Staff writer Steven R. Watros can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveWatros.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: November 5, 2014

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the first name of Medical School professors Joseph Newhouse.