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John Harvard's Journal

Peak Professorships

January-February 2003

The ranks of University Professors—Harvard's supreme academic appointment—have changed significantly with the elevation of two faculty members to the position, and the announcement that a third will return to Cambridge to take up the chair he relinquished in 1998. University Professors are recognized for their wide-ranging and pioneering scholarship, often crossing disciplinary boundaries, and are encouraged to pursue their work by engaging with fellow faculty members and students across Harvard's schools. As a measure of their distinction, there are but 21 University Professorships in all (three of them currently vacant).

Dale W. Jorgenson, Ph.D. '59, formerly Abbe professor of economics, is the first Morris University Professor, occupying a chair named for Samuel W. Morris '40. Jorgenson—who in 1971 won the American Economic Association's John Bates Clark Medal as the profession's most distinguished young economist—is widely known for bridging theory and practice. For example, he has examined determinants of investment spending and has done leading work on the role of technology in economic growth, the subject of his most recent book, Economic Growth in the Information Age. (His research on global warming and the development of China was reported in "The Great Global Experiment," November-December 2002, page 34.) Besides chairing the department of economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) from 1994 to 1997, Jorgenson has directed the Kennedy School of Government's Program on Technology and Ecnomic Policy since 1984. The new professorship was funded by Morris's daughter, Barbara Morris Caspersen, and her husband, Finn M.W. Caspersen, LL.B. '66, a leading benefactor of the Law School.

Christoph Wolff
Christoph
Wolff
Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office
Christoph Wolff, formerly Mason professor of music and past dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is now Adams University Professor. He succeeds art historian John K. Shearman, an expert on the Italian Renaissance. A scholar of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music, Wolff is particularly known for his recent definitive biography of Johann Sebastian Bach, and for helping to discover the musical estate of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in Ukrainian archives (see "Bach in the USSR," November-December 1999, page 21). Wolff has chaired the music department and served as curator of the music library. He referred to his graduate-school deanship, from 1992 to 2000, as an eye-opening experience, and said that while he intended to remain firmly grounded in music, "I feel encouraged to explore the possibility of cross-discipline activity in a more determined way."

Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen
Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office
Finally, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who left Harvard in 1998 to become master of Trinity College, Cambridge University, announced that he would step down and return to the American Cambridge in January 2004, resuming his research and teaching in economics and philosophy as Lamont University Professor. Sen is considered the world's leading scholar of welfare economics, and a powerful moral force who has addressed issues of poverty, famine, and class and gender inequality. In addition to his FAS affiliations, he has worked in Harvard's Center for Population and Development Studies, with which he has maintained adjunct and visiting appointments since relocating to England. Sen was a Commencement speaker in 2000, with poet and fellow Nobelist Seamus Heaney. Sen's new collection of essays, Rationality and Freedom, has just been published by Harvard University Press.