February 21, 2006


Embattled President of Harvard to Step Down at End of Semester (ALAN FINDER and KATE ZERNIKE, 2/21/06, NY Times)

Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, said today that he would step down at the end of the academic year. [...]

The president's decision came after several weeks of agitation by many members of the faculty of Harvard's largest school, who were upset over the resignation of their dean, William C. Kirby, late last month. Many of the professors, who are part of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, accused Dr. Summers of having forced out Dr. Kirby. They scheduled a vote of no confidence in Dr. Summers for their next faculty meeting, on Feb. 28.

The decision to step down came from Dr. Summers after he decided that his situation had become untenable, a university official said.

After some members of the university's governing board talked in private with professors and administrators, trying to gauge the depth of the faculty's anger, the board also came to the conclusion that the relationship between the president and the faculty could not be repaired. Many of the professors who spoke with board members urged them to end the conflict by asking Dr. Summers to step down, said a professor who had talked with a board member.

Obviously the board doesn't govern.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2006 4:37 PM

Harvard is like a baseball or hockey team. When things need to be adjusted, the coach gets fired - even though he himself plays no position on the field or ice.

Posted by: obc at February 21, 2006 5:12 PM

uh oh, I wonder how many of the female faculty burst into tears like that woman from the earlier get Summers "scandal".

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 21, 2006 5:14 PM

obc - Summers was just doing the board's will -- they wanted to take Harvard back from the faculty, who run it like a coalition of personal fiefdoms -- naturally the faculty resisted -- the question is why the board caved. Do they no longer wish to take back control, or are they going to attempt it more slowly and Macchiavellianly?

Posted by: pj at February 21, 2006 5:36 PM

I sit corrected.

Posted by: obc at February 21, 2006 6:59 PM

Summers to Harvard was one of those Nixon to China things -- or Joe Klein to the New York City Board of Education -- where in this case a Democrat with some street cred among the media from their past Clinton Administration service can actually do a more than others can before they are branded anti-student and/or racist and sexist (AFAIK Summers didn't last long enough to complete the trifecta and be branded a homophobe). And while the board did cave on him, it was interesting to see the report on the CBS Evening News tonight was basically sympathetic to Summers while not-so-subtily labeling the faculty a bunch of spoiled little kids who wanted papa Larry to make nice with them.

Small consolation for Summers, but if that image was to actaully catch on in the media and become widespread, the board might decide to show a little courage and hire someone who will try and continue in the same path Summers followed, minus the baggage he acquired over the past five years.

Posted by: John at February 21, 2006 9:11 PM

Harvard is now living off its accreted social capital. (And it's $25 billion of financial capital) They bring nothing to the table as an organization other than the marketing position in consumers minds and "the" leading univeristy.

Posted by: John Sterling at February 22, 2006 8:24 AM

Cornell West. Step right up.

Posted by: erp at February 22, 2006 11:55 AM

When Bolton's finished with the UN ...

Posted by: Genecis at February 22, 2006 12:17 PM