Gifts Proposal Advisory Committee (GPAC)


I. GPAC Charge

The Gifts Proposal Advisory Committee (GPAC) oversees the institutional review, approval, and processing of certain categories of new restricted gifts at HKS. GPAC is advisory to the Dean, Academic Dean, and Executive Dean, and is comprised of senior representatives of the HKS Financial Services (OFS), Alumni Relations and Resource Development (ARRD), Research Administration (RAO), Academic Dean, and Dean’s Offices. It seeks to ensure that new initiatives advance the School’s mission with a clear understanding of the associated costs and benefits.

GPAC will also engage the standing HKS Faculty Committee on Projects and Proposals (FCOPP) for a subset of new gift proposals requiring additional review and discussion. The GPAC focus on coordinated advance review of selected new gift proposals mirrors in many ways the standard policies and procedures already in place for the review and approval of new sponsored program proposals (grants and contracts) at HKS and at Harvard University.

II. GPAC Membership


Associate Dean for Research Policy and Administration, Co-Chair [Alper]

Senior Associate Dean, Alumni Relations and Resource Development (ARRD), Co-Chair [C. Haight]

Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations and Resource Development, ARRD [Jackowitz]

Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum [Cooper]

Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor, Office of the Dean [Wald]

Executive Director, ARRD [Dustin]

Sr. Associate Director of Donor Relations, ARRD [Meehan]

Associate Director of Finance, Office of Financial Services [Phillips]

Chair, Faculty Committee on Projects and Proposals (FCOPP), ex officio [Stavins]

III. GPAC Scope

All restricted gifts and permanent endowments, regardless of size, must be processed and approved through OFS and ARRD before new accounts can be established. However, restricted gift and endowment proposals presenting one or more of the following characteristics must receive formal review, in advance, by GPAC:

  • When a proposed gift (or pledge) exceeds $100,000
  • When a gift is proposed as a new formal permanent endowment
  • When there are questions of gift v. sponsored agreement criteria
  • When there are questions as to the extent of HKS faculty leadership and oversight
  • When there are questions as to the source, identity, or reputation of the donor(s)
  • When there are concerns about gift terms and conditions, including any donor naming expectations or use of the Harvard or Kennedy School names
  • When a gift would have significant infrastructure implications (e.g., space, staffing, IT services)
  • When there are commitments of additional funding, either by matching gifts to be raised from other donors or funds to be provided from HKS


Gift proposals typically expected to be considered “routine” by ARRD and/or GPAC and therefore generally not subject to additional GPAC review would include (but are not limited to):

  • Graduate fellowship (defined as degree program financial aid) gifts
  • Executive Education fellowship funds for attendance at existing open enrollment programs
  • Supplemental gifts to ongoing (previously approved) research and/or engagement programs managed by an HKS research center
  • Unrestricted gifts to the Dean’s Fund or similar

IV. GPAC Standards / Elements of GPAC Reviews (as applicable)

  • What specific program activities will be supported by the new gift?
  • Will these activities be overseen by a HKS Research Center (identify)?
  • Is one or more HKS core faculty members committed to providing meaningful intellectual oversight?
  • Will the program require new investments in HKS infrastructure or staffing? Have all associated costs been included in the proposed budget (e.g. additional space needs, library or research materials, fellowships, lab time, specialized technology, recruiting resources, gift administrative fee, etc.)?
  • Is the program likely to catalyze other initiatives that may generate additional resources and expanded faculty and/or student opportunities in the future?
  • Might the program bring together HKS (and other Harvard) faculty members who would otherwise not collaborate?
  • Are the gift terms and conditions consistent with University and HKS policies and are they sufficiently broad to allow for flexible spending should circumstances change in the future?
  • Are there other potential risk management or administrative concerns (e.g., gift vs. grant distinctions, donor due diligence, use of the Harvard or HKS names, potential conflicts of interest, reputational risks)?

V. GPAC Review Process

Faculty members and senior program staff should submit a GPAC Transmittal package to the GPAC secretary or her designee, via the relevant Research Center, Program or administrative department, prior to engaging in detailed donor solicitation discussions. The package must include a completed and signed transmittal form (GPAC Transmittal Form), detailed proposal and internal budget, and information regarding any relevant donor history and correspondence. The transmittal form requires an approval signature by the relevant Research Center faculty director or executive director (or department head / administrative dean) and will be copied to the relevant Area Chair .

All materials for GPAC review should be sent via email to the attention of Toni Meehan (ARRD) at gpac@hks.harvard.edu and copied to antoinette_meehan@hks.harvard.edu. GPAC staff will acknowledge receipt, will confirm with the originating faculty member/research center/department that the transmittal package is complete, and may ask for additional information or supporting materials before circulation to and formal consideration by GPAC.

GPAC will review the transmittal package for alignment with the committee’s standards and criteria. The relevant Area Chair (if applicable) will be consulted at the discretion of the GPAC co-chairs and/or FCOPP chair. If GPAC has no concerns regarding the budget or payment schedule, the proposed activities or commitments, the donor, or the connection to HKS or Center priorities, it will recommend approval of the solicitation and notify the originating faculty member/Center/department/Area Chair. ARRD will then work with the faculty member or other staff on a solicitation and gift negotiation strategy as needed, including drafting required formal gift terms for signature by the Dean, the University’s Recording Secretary, and the donor.

The majority of GPAC business will be conducted via email. The committee will respond to the originating faculty member/Center/department with an indication of next steps within 3 business days following confirmation by a GPAC staff member that the review package is complete.

GPAC will engage the Dean, Academic Dean, and Executive Dean as appropriate, by providing details of new gift proposals, raising any questions or concerns the committee might have, and making specific recommendations in response to a gift proposal under review. Feedback from the Dean or his designee will be relayed to the originating Center/Program by the GPAC co-chairs. Following additional discussion as needed, the proposal and/or the draft gift terms will be revised accordingly, in consultation with the relevant Center or Program, prior to discussion with the donor.

GPAC will maintain data on the flow of specific categories of restricted gifts – numbers of proposals, solicitations, and gifts received – and will produce periodic reports for the School’s leadership and others.

VI. GPAC Engagement with HKS Faculty Committee on Projects and Proposals (FCOPP)

  • A subset of new gift proposals will require additional formal review, as recommended by GPAC and carried out by FCOPP. Such reviews will be coordinated by the Associate Dean for Research (GPAC co-chair) and the FCOPP chair. These may include, but will not be limited to:
  • Proposals for significant novel research programs or engagement initiatives
  • Most new permanent endowment proposals
  • Proposals with annual budgets equal to $1m or greater
  • Proposals that may present questions of meaningful HKS faculty leadership and engagement, or concerns regarding sufficient HKS Center management oversight
  • Proposals where the substance of the research program or engagement efforts (or in some cases, specific geographic or regional focus) may raise questions regarding an adequate or appropriate connection to the School’s current mission and priorities or those of the local Center/Program. For example, is there clear evidence of prior HKS interest in this policy area? Or, might the proposed program strengthen areas of inquiry that HKS regards as important and where the School’s portfolio is currently thin?
  • New academic/teaching initiatives requiring Academic Dean (and/or Area Chair) review, including co-curricular activities
  • Proposals with specific donor related concerns, including reputational risk and prior engagement history, or other potential risks, broadly defined


The majority of gift or endowment proposals in this tier will receive expedited approval from the FCOPP chair. Following concurrence by the Dean or his designee, such proposals would then proceed into the standard gifts solicitation and processing pipeline. In the judgment of the FCOPP chair, a small number of proposals may be held over for full FCOPP committee consideration at the earliest possible scheduled meeting date. FCOPP reviews – both expedited and full committee – will follow the standards and procedures currently in place for that committee [FCOPP Scope, Standards, and Procedures (pdf)].



Version 6.2011

Print print | Email email