Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Town Hall Meeting

I went to part of the "Town Hall Meeting" about Harvard's gloomy financial situation yesterday; some news writeups are available with more details.

I don't often see Mike Smith since he took leave of the Computer Science faculty to become Dean of the Faculty. And when I do, it's not usually in his Dean capacity. I have to say, I think he did a very good job with a bad situation yesterday. Mike's demeanor is generally calm, collected, composed -- he comes off as reassuring in the face of crisis. (Yes, I know the same is said of our still-new President -- the style is somewhat similar on its face.) I must admit I'm also reassured knowing there's a technical, engineering-oriented person up there who can deal with the numbers and tradeoffs -- somebody who just knows what it means when told something like you have to cut 10% from the budget and 50% of the budget is fixed. Finally, I thought he answered questions well. I've heard some thought he was "evasive", but I think he simply avoids giving details when he's not sure what the details are yet, or doesn't have the facts at hand. And he answers questions thoughtfully and respectfully, which wasn't the case with some previous higher-ups in the administration....

The situation is still a bad situation. But I, at least, have some confidence in the people who are supposed to be managing it.

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