- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers yesterday said he is resigning at the end of the academic year, ending a brief tenure marred by clashes with faculty and his comment that innate ability partly explains why few women reach top science posts.

“I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the arts and sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard’s future,” Mr. Summers wrote in a letter posted on Harvard’s Web site.

Mr. Summers’ announcement came a week before a second no-confidence vote was scheduled by Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Last year, that faculty group registered a 218-185 no-confidence vote, which was symbolic because the seven-member Harvard Corporation has sole authority to fire the university’s president.

Derek Bok, Harvard’s president from 1971 to 1991, will serve as interim president of the university from July 1 until the conclusion of the search for a new president.

Board members said in a letter posted online that the past year has been difficult and “sometimes wrenching,” but they look back on Mr. Summers’ tenure with appreciation.

“Larry Summers has served Harvard with extraordinary vision and vitality,” the members said.

Mr. Summers, who was appointed in 2001, became embroiled in several controversies early in his tenure, among them the departure of several prominent black studies professors including Cornel West — who left after a falling out with the university president.

Last year’s comments on women and science grew into a broader discussion of Mr. Summers’ management style, which some considered brusque and even bullying.

Next week’s no-confidence vote follows the resignation of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean William Kirby. Some faculty think he was pushed out by Mr. Summers, although Mr. Kirby has said the decision was mutual.

Mr. Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, was a prominent economist when he became Harvard’s 27th president after Neil L. Rudenstine announced in May 2001 his resignation after nearly a decade.

The New Haven, Conn., native received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1975 and a doctorate from Harvard in 1982.

He taught at MIT from 1979 to 1982, and then served as a domestic policy economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers until 1983.

After leaving Washington, he became a professor of economics at Harvard. He was the World Bank’s chief economist from 1991 to 1993.

“These last years have not been without their strains and moments of rancor,” the 51-year-old Mr. Summers acknowledged in his letter.

Mr. Summers’ resignation ends the briefest tenure of any Harvard president since 1862, when Cornelius Felton died after two years in office.


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