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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lawrence Summers steps down to spend more time with his family

posted by bitchphd
Lawrence Summers is stepping down as president of Harvard at the end of this year. Here's his letter of resignation and the acceptance letter from the board.

My sense, from well outside Harvard (as in, if Harvard were in Boston, I would be in, maybe, Siberia) is that Summers has done some good things in terms of undergrad education and access for poor kids, but that--in addition to the women-in-science brouhaha--the faculty resent his pretty dictatorial management style. I find this interesting because I'm at a place that also has a really strongly top-down management style, one that the faculty, by and large, resent; and because this year I'm doing some administrative work fairly high up the food chain and am finding it kind of amazing how tin-eared some people can be about how they communicate with faculty. Yeah, it can be like herding cats; then again, as any cat person knows, it's actually not all that difficult to get cats to do what you want, as long as you don't treat them like dogs.

I'm gonna be really interested to see what the broader academic world has to say about this in the next week or so. And I don't envy Harvard finding a new president by September, although I don't pity them all that much, either--if anyone can cherry-pick their leadership, it's ye Crimson.
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