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John Harvard's Journal

July 2, Day 1

September-October 2001

Lawrence H. Summers became the University's twenty-seventh president on Sunday, July 1. Next day, photographers visited his office in Massachusetts Hall and found an accouterment novel in Harvard presidential history: a personal computer. Then the media contingent followed him upstairs to the Perkins Room for a meeting (shown here, from left: Marsha Semuels, assistant provost; Sally Zeckhauser, vice president for administration, from the rear; Joe Wrinn, director of news and public affairs).

Summers in his office, using computer
Summers in meeting with adminstrators Summers
Photographs by Justin Allardyce Knight

Within days, Summers had dispatched e-mail letters to administrative employees, faculty, and alumni, "simply to say how excited I am to be here, and how much I look forward to working with you." His visits to campus and briefings with deans, faculty members, students, staff, and alumni since his appointment March 11, he noted, had "made me appreciate all the more what an extraordinary and diverse educational institution Harvard is, and is constantly in the process of becoming"--a process he would pay particular attention to as "[I] think more concretely about emerging priorities." Toward that end, Summers encouraged one and all to share their thoughts, and then wished everyone a pleasant summer.

The president's own summer promised to be more than busy. Beyond building his personal staff, Summers immediately faced a round of high-level appointments, ranging from the athletic director (see "Athlete-in-Chief") to Harvard's provost, a new dean for the Graduate School of Education, and a vice president for government, community, and public affairs--all positions vacated by the end of the past academic year. The Divinity School deanship will be vacated at the end of the fall term. Nor did other business wait: during his second week on the job, Summers traveled to Washington as part of the "Science Coalition," soliciting federal financial support for research.

Even as he works on appointments and other matters, Summers will be refining his vision of Harvard and preparing to share his agenda with the community. His installation ceremony will begin with an academic procession into Tercentenary Theatre on Friday, October 12, at 2 p.m., following a series of academic symposiums that morning and student performances the evening before. As they become available, details will be posted on this magazine's website,, as will reports on the installation events and the president's address.