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Dean’s Leadership Fund

In a world moving faster than ever, 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 provides unrestricted funds that can be used immediately and flexibly, giving Harvard the capacity to continue as a place of discovery and a premier source of ideas, advancing teaching, learning, and research, and leading change in the world.

Members of the Class of 2013 on Commencement Day

Members of the Class of 2013 on Commencement Day
Photo credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences will strengthen the Dean’s Leadership Fund to ensure Harvard can move quickly and effectively to seize new opportunities and address challenges. For example, when the financial markets crashed and more students needed more financial aid than was anticipated or available, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith turned to immediate-use funds to fulfill Harvard’s promise of financial aid. And he was able to do it at a time of rising institutional expenses, falling endowment returns, and cuts in government assistance. Dean Smith met the unexpected, dramatic increase in needed student aid, protecting not only Harvard’s industry-leading financial aid program but also the dreams and aspirations of Harvard students from families hit hard by the economic downturn. Unrestricted dollars made this possible.

When fast-moving technologies and new ways of learning meant Harvard had to move nimbly to seize opportunity and be in a position to lead, Dean Smith turned to the Dean’s Leadership Fund to support investment in HarvardX. This University-wide initiative enables faculty to produce innovative online content and experiment with blended models of teaching that are enriching face-to-face exchanges between faculty and students. HarvardX represents an opportunity for Harvard to lead in redefining the model of higher education, reach a new world of learners, and strengthen the educational experiences of students on campus—all because Dean Smith was able to invest these unrestricted dollars.

By the NumbersA sample of the wide range of programs and the percentage of their budgets that rely on unrestricted funds

Dean's Leadership

The Dean’s Leadership Fund has also helped early investment in House Renewal, making the Old Quincy renovation possible, as well as the launch of the new General Education curriculum, which now offers more than 400 courses. These discretionary dollars, for example, have enabled Dean Smith to provide funding for an exciting teaching experiment in a science classroom, seed grants for faculty to integrate art-making in their courses, and start-up funds to recruit a world-renowned expert to lead a major cross-University effort to create sustainable energy sources for the developing world.

The Dean’s Leadership Fund also gives Dean Smith the ability to make smart investments in systems, physical plant, and people to foster greater financial sustainability for the University and enable responsible and systemic stewardship of the FAS’s resources. Just one example is the installation of solar panels on the roof of Canaday Hall, which will provide roughly 60 percent of the hot water needs for the FAS buildings in the Yard, and which—at today’s utility rates—will pay for itself in 10 to 12 years over a 25-year life cycle. The Dean’s Leadership Fund empowers the FAS dean to seize opportunities for those investments that ensure sustainable management of the FAS’s resources.

Through the Dean’s Leadership Fund, we can work together to strengthen Harvard’s teaching and learning experience for the next generation.

— Sandy Matejic Edgerley ’84 and Nick Sakellariadis ’73, Co-Chairs, Harvard College Fund Executive Committee

The Dean’s Leadership Fund has made possible what seemed unimaginable, not only strengthening core commitments to an unparalleled student experience and world-class education but also keeping Harvard at the cutting edge of research and fostering the use of new tools for global online learning. This ensures that Harvard continues as a place of discovery for people leading change in the world today and into the future.

Priority Stories

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith Jun 25, 2014

Fueling Innovation, Discovery, Opportunity

The Dean’s Leadership Fund helps to sustain excellence in teaching and learning.
Professor Gary King Feb 26, 2014

Making the Magic Happen

The Dean’s Leadership Fund gives scholars license to experiment and collaborate.
Volunteer leaders Feb 10, 2014

Seizing Opportunity

Volunteer leaders discuss why the Dean’s Leadership Fund is so important.
Elisa New Aug 10, 2013

On the Leading Edge of Teaching

Harvard is at the forefront of extraordinary changes in education.

Giving Opportunities

When you choose to support the Dean’s Leadership Fund, your gift provides flexibility for the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to strategically invest in promising new ideas and students, faculty, and programs.

  • The Harvard Yard Society Dean's Fellows Society

    The Harvard Yard Society Dean’s Fellows

    The Harvard Yard Society Dean’s Fellows provide flexible support at the highest level.

  • The Harvard Yard Society

    The Harvard Yard Society

    The Harvard Yard Society recognizes those who make leadership gifts without restrictions.

  • Harvard College Associates

    Harvard College Associates

    Harvard College Associates provide the flexible annual support that sets Harvard apart.

Contact us for more ways to get involved


Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development
124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138