Harvard to Move Engineering School to Allston Campus

Harvard University will relocate most of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to its Allston site, across the Charles River from the main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Harvard President Drew Faust made the announcement at a monthly meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences yesterday, according to a transcript of her comments provided by the college. Construction at the site in Allston, a Boston neighborhood, is due to be completed in 2017 or early 2018.

Faust halted work on a planned $1.1 billion science center in 2009 after the university suffered endowment losses during the financial crisis that began in 2008. Last year, she said work on the science center would resume in 2014, and the university has intensified activity in Allston, announcing plans for a new basketball arena along with 10 other construction and renovation projects.

“Our desires for growth, our aspirations to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries, our ambitions for innovative spaces for innovative programs can be realized in the structures and the facilities Allston can make possible,” Faust said at the faculty meeting.

Faculty members have balked at moving to Allston because of its distance from Harvard Yard, as well as from the Harvard Medical School complex on Longwood Avenue in Boston.

Isolation Risks

While Allston would provide more office space for the growing engineering school, students may have difficulty getting across the river to classes, said Michael Mitzenmacher, a computer science professor.

“The potential risk we’re worried about is, will it isolate us from the undergraduate population and remove us from what we see as a key role in undergraduate education,” he said in a telephone interview. “We look forward to working with the central administration on how we can overcome these risks.”

An introductory computer science course taught by engineering school faculty, called CS50, is one of the most popular among Harvard undergraduates, with 700 registered, Mitzenmacher said.

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