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Message from Dean Smith

This is our time to encourage, embrace, and lead change.

Picture a classroom. Is there a teacher standing at the front? That’s how we were taught. Today, there’s a lot you can learn from the back of a classroom, with a clear view of exactly what students are doing on their open laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Michael D. Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences

You might see them updating their Facebook pages—perhaps your carefully crafted lecture is not as compelling as you thought. But if you continue to watch, you will also see just how today’s students use online resources and digital technologies to enhance their learning. They pull up images, dig into references, and share discoveries with their classmates in real time. Their learning isn’t bound by the classroom walls.

These are important lessons—for us, for Harvard, and for all of higher education. These lessons help us understand the challenges we face in the 21st century and the real opportunities before us. Our faculty understand the challenges and are experimenting with new opportunities in teaching and learning. Harvard, world renowned in scholarship, aims to be the leader in higher education.

I am a teacher at heart, a son of schoolteachers. I am committed to education and the benefits it brings, and I am committed to ensuring that Harvard continues to produce generation after generation of leaders who make a difference in the world.

I am committed to ensuring that Harvard continues to produce generation after generation of leaders who make a difference in the world.

As a teacher, I’ve been at the front and in the back of the classroom. Now, as dean, I see a world challenging Harvard and each of us to do more, to be more. The world is evolving, shrinking at an ever-accelerating pace, powered by ideas—the most valuable currency of today and tomorrow.

Ideas have always been the fuel for excellence at Harvard. This is our time to encourage, embrace, and lead change. This campaign is our opportunity to ensure for this and every generation that Harvard continues as a premier source of ideas and leadership, advancing teaching, learning, and research, with a unique commitment to truth and excellence.

Harvard is a place of discovery for people leading change in the world, be they scientists, scholars, or statesmen; poets, performers, or entrepreneurs. That is our heritage and it must drive our future.

Together, we must make sure that every extraordinary student knows that our industry-leading financial aid program puts Harvard within their reach and their budget.

Bringing the best and brightest young scholars to campus and helping them thrive, no matter their backgrounds, is the foundation of Harvard’s excellence. Investing in financial aid through this campaign moves the entire Harvard community forward by underwriting the strength of our student body and fostering a rich and dynamic learning environment. Harvard’s ability to continue as a place of discovery and as a source of ideas, new thinking, and leadership depends on it.

Together, we must make sure that Harvard continues to attract and support extraordinary scholars and graduate students.

This ensures that Harvard continues to be the place where the most difficult problems are confronted, the most promising research is supported, and the most important discoveries are revealed. Through the faculty and our scholarly enterprise, Harvard brings together the brightest minds across an unparalleled landscape of disciplines, with unrivaled resources and the freedom to explore fearlessly, think creatively, and act boldly.

Together, we must position Harvard to lead in learning. At this moment of disruption and change, Harvard can shape the future of education.

Like nowhere else in higher education, Harvard is exploring, innovating, experimenting, and leading change in how faculty teach and students learn. We are working to understand how faculty can use their time with students differently and better.

We are building new tools that engage students and produce better learning outcomes. We are unleashing our educational resources for use by learners around the world. This campaign will propel our progress further and to even greater result.

Our students will be the first to benefit, but the impact of our efforts will be felt far beyond our campus.

Together, we must ensure that our School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) continues to grow as a new kind of engineering school, integral to the College.

We are creating and growing a campaign with the unique breadth, excellence, strength, imagination, and heart of Harvard itself.  

SEAS was founded on the premise that engineering and applied sciences are fundamentally both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary and that a liberal arts education for all concentrators must also create literacy in science, engineering, and technology. We are rethinking and dramatically expanding the place of engineering in higher education and reimagining the role of engineers in society.

Together, we must make sure Harvard keeps pace with its students and their changing needs.

Learning happens everywhere—from art studios to athletics fields, from soup kitchens to House dining halls. The Houses, the places our students call home, are among the most important of these learning places. They are communities where risks are taken and confidence is built. They bring Harvard down to scale and foster friendships that last a lifetime. We must invest in House Renewal and the student experience.

Together, we must build support for the Dean’s Leadership Fund.

In the future, the leading institutions of higher education will be those agile enough to capitalize on unexpected opportunities and meet unforeseen needs. The Dean’s Leadership Fund gives the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that agility, ensuring Harvard’s ability to continue as a place of discovery and a premier source of ideas, advancing teaching, learning, and research, and leading change in the world.

Our faculty and our students come to Harvard from all over the world, from different lives and places.

They come to be part of the excellence, the dynamic thinking, and the intellectual and personal testing that are Harvard’s hallmarks.

And they bring with them the stuff it takes to make a difference in the world: Leadership. Determination. Relentless curiosity. Compassion. Boldness. Vision. An openness to new ideas and new thinking. A commitment to service and the pursuit of truth.

We are creating and growing a campaign with the unique breadth, excellence, strength, imagination, and heart of Harvard itself.

This institution and the people who make it great deserve it. Harvard’s ability to continue as a place of discovery and as a source of ideas, new thinking, and leadership depends on it.

Dean Michael D. Smith signature

Michael D. Smith
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences