Handbook for Librarians & Professional and Administrative Staff in the Harvard University Library

The Organization of the University Library

University Governance
The following description comes from the University Structure and Responsibility for Implementation section of the Harvard University Affirmative Action Plan Summary:

"Harvard University is best understood as a confederation of its various Faculties with a Central Administration. Decision making is decentralized, and high degrees of responsibility for governance are vested in its various academic units. Consequently a great deal of cooperation, consent, and consultation characterize the governance process of the University. A collegial environment for decision making prevails, allowing for the combination of freedom and control that best suits an academic institution.

The Office of the President is the central governance unit of the University. Five Fellows of the University along with the President and the Treasurer comprise the Corporation, the principal governance board. This board is charged with the responsibility of maintaining the University's resources. The Board of Overseers, composed of 32 persons, reviews certain academic affairs and the management of the University through its visiting committees. The Provost works in close concert with the President on the major policy, planning, and administrative issues that are important to the University as a whole.

There are eleven Deans whose responsibilities include management of both academic and administrative affairs of the following academic units: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Business Administration, the School of Dental Medicine, the Graduate School of Design, the Divinity School, the Graduate School of Education, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Law School, the Medical School, the School of Public Health, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Each Faculty holds considerable autonomy in terms of determining academic purpose and management policy, and each has developed its own structure to meet the needs of its students, faculty, and staff. Coordination and communication among the Deans and Faculties occurs through the University's Academic Council. The President meets regularly with the Council to discuss, review, and recommend University-wide policies and procedures.

The Central Administration, structured around five vice presidents, holds responsibility for formulating and implementing University-wide policy and for providing administrative support for the Faculties as needed. The five administrative departments headed by vice presidents are: Vice President for Administration; Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development; Vice President for Finance; Vice President and General Counsel; and Vice President for Government, Community, and Public Affairs. An Overseers' Committee to Visit the University Library, consisting of about thirty individuals from all parts of the country, annually visits the Library and reports its findings and recommendations to the Board."

Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.