Tenure Procedures Review Will Not Examine Ad Hoc Committees or Individual Cases, FAS Dean Gay Says


Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay said her office’s fall 2020 review of tenure procedures will examine neither Harvard’s use of ad hoc committees nor individual tenure denials.

Gay wrote to faculty in December that she would initiate the tenure review days after more than 100 faculty called for such a review.

She said on Thursday that she is currently speaking with faculty to understand their questions about the tenure promotion process and define the scope of the review. Gay also issued an open invitation for faculty to speak with her during February’s faculty meeting and said she is planning to meet with both department chairs and the FAS Committee on Appointments and Promotions.

Gay said that, because she continues to gather information from faculty, she cannot define precisely what questions the review will answer.


“We’re very much in listening mode and are still quite a ways away from settling on the substance,” Gay said.

Still, Gay did comment on several topics the review will either address or set aside.

As part of the review, Gay said she hopes to “benchmark” peer institutions’ tenure processes — comparing aspects such as the length of the process and the various reviews that are conducted during the process — to see what FAS can learn from them.

She added that the review will not examine the use of ad hoc committees in the tenure process because they are decided at the level of the University, rather than by FAS.

Gay also said she will not examine individual tenure cases, including the University’s decision to deny tenure to Romance Languages and Literatures associate professor Lorgia García Peña, as a part of the review. Hundreds of students and ethnic studies scholars within and outside Harvard have condemned the University for its decision to deny García Peña tenure.

Asked if she would examine how candidates’ race and gender impact tenure outcomes, Gay said such factors are not bases for evaluation in the tenure process.

Aside from examining tenure, Gay is currently engaged in a number of other administrative proceedings.

FAS is currently reviewing the culture and structure of Harvard’s Athletics Department. Gay said she hopes FAS will be able to share a report on the athletics study with Harvard affiliates this spring.

The outside consulting firm conducting the athletics study, Mercer, has finished collecting data regarding student athletes’ experiences and the department’s structure and will continue to collect data regarding the department’s organizational structure, according to Gay.

Gay’s administration is also currently conducting three major searches: a search for faculty specializing in ethnic studies, a search for the next Athletics Director, and a search for the next dean of the Division of Continuing Education.

At least ten ethnic studies faculty candidates will visit Harvard to give talks and meet with faculty and students in the coming weeks, according to Gay. After all ten scholars visit campus, the search committee will begin to consider which four candidates to hire.

Gay said the Athletics Director search committee is currently assessing the needs of “constituencies and stakeholders.” She said there is no current timeline for the search.

“I think it’ll take as much time as it takes to get it right,” Gay said.

The DCE dean search committee is nearing the conclusion of its “listening” phase, according to Gay.

— Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.