The recession seems to be making even Harvard University, with its massive endowment, reconsider its ambitious expansion plans. The new science complex now under construction in Allston—across the river from the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus—is getting heightened scrutiny given the economic slowdown. Rumors are swirling within Harvard that the university's stem cell and regenerative biology department may stay in Cambridge rather than move to the new complex in 2011, as currently planned. That would be a startling change, since the department is considered the keystone of the new Allston research community.
Harvard Provost Steve Hyman acknowledges that the economic uncertainties "have dictated a thorough review of all Harvard's capital planning, including its future development in Allston," but he insists that "no final decisions have been made." Hyman told ScienceInsider that "we are carefully considering a range of planning scenarios," but declined to give details. And if Harvard makes any changes, it must first work with the City of Boston and Allston residents "to explain and discuss next steps." But he added that "it is premature to speculate" what those changes might be.