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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Summers emails campus

As I'm sure you all know, this email was just sent around to campus:
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

I write to let you know that, after considerable reflection, I have notified the Harvard Corporation that I will resign as President of the University as of June 30, 2006. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have served Harvard in this role, and I will treasure the continuing friendship and support of so many exceptional colleagues and students at Harvard.

Below are links to my letter to the community, as well as a letter from the members of the Corporation and a related news release.

Sincerely,

Larry Summers

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/daily/2006/02/21-summers.html
http://www.president.harvard.edu/speeches/2006/0221_summers.html
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/daily/2006/02/21-board.pdf

8 Comments:

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew,
Can you give me a call? I am a reporter working on a blog story. Thanks.
617-619-6434

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the interest. Could you email me? golis@fas.harvard.edu

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

Sorry, that was me above, accidentally signed as anonymous.

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Sarika Bansal said...

Does anyone know what exactly the faculty grievences were? I'm trying to gauge how sad I should feel...

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That the 60's are over and its hard for them to find an authority figure to "stick it to" as they enter their golden years?

Disclaimer: I'm a liberal too. But this whole situation really, REALLY bothers me. The undergraduate faculty come accross as being exceedingly petty, overly sensitive, and incredibly self-centered. Look Summers has many flaws, the least of which not being that he has the social skills of a pet rock. (He went to MIT for undergrad, what do we expect?).

But it is absolutely INDEFENSIBLE that someone who has the support of the leadership and faculty of just about every other school in the University, 3/4 of the student body, and the University Corporation can be forced out by a loud (and admittedly quite sizable) segment of the FAS faculty.

If he were president Harvard College, fine. But he is president of Harvard UNIVERSITY. As shocking as it may be to their outsized egos, neither the world nor the University ought to revolve around the undergraduate faculty.

This site prides itself on inclusiveness and power in the hands of many, not the few. Well Summer's resignation is an example of the latter.

A disgruntled Law Student. (And recent Harvard College grad).

 
At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Drew Trombly said...

Sarika:

That's the reason why so many people are so livid, including myself. Summers' opponents have yet to make clear what their beef with this guy is.

Somebody proposed conducting a sit-in at the Faculty Club. I think an even better idea would be to hold a sit-in at Judith Ryan's office hours. Any takers?

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Edward Lee said...

Does anyone know what exactly the faculty grievences were? I'm trying to gauge how sad I should feel...

Well, there were a lot of little things and some medium-sized things over the years that got FAS angry:

- Bitching out Cornel West over his non-traditional academic pursuits, to the point where West left for Princeton. (At least this is what West claims; Summers, to his credit, has declined to offer his take on that private conversation.)

- Favoring the physical and social sciences over the "softer" humanities subjects, and making intemperate remarks to that end. Supposedly Summers once said to a prof's face that "sociologists weren't very clever".

- Denying tenure to hip-hop scholar Marcyliena Morgan, thus provoking her and her husband Lawrence Bobo (an established star, whose empirically-driven sociology research Summers surely would have had to respect) to leave for Stanford. Departments don't like it when one of their unanimous tenure decisions is overruled.

Basically, Larry stepped on a lot of toes (sometimes intentionally, sometimes inadvertently) during his presidency. It's really too bad, because he had a pretty clear vision for where he wanted to take Harvard, and accomplished a lot of things towards that end, but he never really mastered the social calculus of picking one's battles.

 
At 5:44 PM, Blogger narcissusfemme said...

I'd like to point out that while in the Crimson's article this morning no other Harvard schools chimed in with the Summers opposition, the law school at least should have good reason to. Particularly troubling to me is the quotation from HLS Dean Kagan:

“I think Larry’s been excellent for the Law School,” Kagan said. She added, “He’s never meddled or interfered inappropriately with what I view to be Law School prerogatives or Law School faculty prerogatives.”

...Wait a minute--so when Summers refused to add HLS to a long list of law school plaintiffs challenging the Solomon Amendment, despite Dean Kagan's Dec. 2004 ban on military recruiting, that wasn't interfering? And I suppose Kagan's Sept. 2005 decision to lift the ban had nothing to do with Summers?

Beyond that, even if the FAS faculty is truly alone in criticism of Summers, I don't think it's surprising that they should carry enough weight for him to resign. The Corporation and other higher-ups may depend on the research that comes out of our various graduate schools, but honestly, isn't the Harvard brand--and that's really what everyone cares about--a product of the college?

 

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