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Harvard faculty: Is hiring taking a back seat?

Harvard's dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Bill Kirby, sent out an e-mail last week explaining to professors that the gradual, planned expansion of the size of the faculty is ahead of schedule, ''the happy result" of everyone's effort to make faculty recruitment a big priority. In January, Harvard's core unit will have 700 tenured and tenure-track professors, up from 603 in 1999. Last year, 75 percent of arts and sciences' senior job offers were accepted. But there was a ''but." ''Given that we are ahead of schedule, we must take care to move forward at a sustainable pace that is in keeping with our resources," Kirby wrote. Thus, FAS will approve only 42 new job searches this year, fewer than had been expected. Many department heads have been told planned searches would be put on hold. With the multibillion-dollar Allston campus and expensive new student-life projects such as a pub and a cafe all on the drawing board, some are wondering if faculty hiring isn't suffering for the sake of other line items. Music department chairwoman Ingrid Monson stood up at Tuesday's first faculty meeting of the year, said her department had had a search postponed, and asked Kirby: ''Can you please clarify where hiring fits into the budgetary priorities of the university, especially in relationship to Allston planning and the Crimson's recent announcement of very substantial funding for student pubs and cafes?" Kirby, according to a spokesman, responded that investments in student life are important and long overdue.

GOING AND COMING: As Boston University phases in the 14-year term limits for trustees that it approved in 2004 (in the wake of the brouhaha over Daniel Goldin's hiring), two of its longest-serving board members -- and close allies of former president John Silber -- have just left the board: Melvin Miller and Christopher Barreca, appointed in 1969 and 1970, respectively. Another vintage 1969 trustee, Peter Vermilye, still remains. Also gone are two high-flying business people who served on the committee that crafted BU's governance reforms last year: Wall Street Journal publisher Karen Elliott House and Michael Schell, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Global Markets.

BERKLEE IDOL: When Berklee College of Music artist-in-residence Kathy Mattea put word out that she was holding a contest to choose a student-written song for recording, Jared Salvatore of Needham and Erin Barra of Salt Lake City knew they had to understand Mattea's mindset to win. So the song-writing majors listened to the two-time Grammy winner's recordings. They read Mattea's website where she had posted thoughts about Hurricane Katrina, and found inspiration. ''We wanted to produce something that she could connect with and bring out the best in her recording," Salvatore said. Their song ''A Matter of Time" recounts a parent's efforts to calm a child's worries about a storm. It was Mattea's favorite from more than two dozen entries that she listened to on Monday. She was to record the song Friday. School officials say it is not clear what will come of the song. Mattea, on her blog, wrote: ''These kids are just fearless . . . very serious about what they're doing. . . . It was very moving, and humbling. And inspiring."

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