Faculty Meeting, Part 2

Speakers' prepared texts are provided here, or, where they spoke without a text or did not provide one, a summary account appears...

The meeting continued the faculty meeting of February 15, with open discussion of the University's administration. Speakers' prepared texts are provided here, or, where they spoke without a text or did not provide one, a summary account appears.           

~The Editors


President Lawrence H. Summers

Let me begin by thanking all of you for coming this afternoon. These conversations are important to all of us, and to the university we all care about. And they are essential to restoring the open, collegial culture on which this faculty depends. The many conversations I have had this past week, and those we will have today, are only a beginning.

           These are difficult discussions, and I recognize that many candid and critical words may be spoken here. If there are harsh words to be said, I ask only that you direct them toward me, not toward one another. Whatever our differences, I hope we can take care not to divide the institution we love.

           All of us here, and across Harvard, have a shared stake in advancing crucial goals.

Some of them – like enhancing the undergraduate experience – are the province of this faculty.

           Others – like framing our international agenda, or planning for Allston, or opening our doors as widely as possible to outstanding students – have more university-wide dimensions.

           Such crucial objectives and others can be met only with this faculty's full and direct engagement. For my part, I need to do a better job of ensuring that such engagement takes place in the ways it should. And I will need your help, working with the Dean and others, to make that happen.

           I am committed to opening a new chapter in my work with you. To start, I pledge to you that I will seek to listen more – and more carefully – and to temper my words and actions in ways that convey respect and help us work together more harmoniously. No doubt I will not always get things right. But I am determined to set a different tone.

           I also recognize there are concerns that go well beyond personality or personal style. It is essential that we have an environment where all members of this faculty are encouraged to speak their minds freely, where decisions are reached with mutuality, and where more careful attention is paid to the respective roles and responsibilities of faculty and administration. There is much in these and other areas that we will need to discuss and address going forward – as we have now begun to do, for example, with the new task forces on women faculty and women in science. Hereto, I am committed to doing my part.

           In these circumstances, I have asked Dean Kirby to moderate our discussion. My main desire at this point is to listen.


William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) acknowledged the frank exchange of views on the president's remarks concerning women in the sciences and engineering last month [January 14 at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)] for which Summers had apologized, and noted that the February 15 faculty meeting, of which today's session was a continuation, had moved on to wider views about the administration. Difficult though that session was, Kirby said, it would be more difficult not to have had an airing of views, at which faculty were able to "speak directly and collegially with each other, and with me, and with the president."

            Kirby had been especially concerned to note that faculty members had been willing to speak only on the grounds of anonymity. If tenured Harvard faculty members can't speak openly, he asked, who can? Recalling his remarks on free speech two years ago, Kirby urged that speakers be heard with civility, and as they expressed differing views, "I hope we will not lose sight of our shared purpose" of advancing knowledge, educating students, and sustaining the reputation of an institution respected worldwide. "We cannot emerge divided, fractious, and polarized," Kirby urged, since everyone present shared a commitment to the greater role of the institution.

            Kirby noted that more people had requested to speak than could be heard in the meeting time. In calling upon faculty members to speak, he would seek a balance of perspectives. He also planned to convene a series of meetings for faculty members with President Summers for informal discussion. He then recognized the first speaker.


1. Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Watts professor of music and professor of African and African American studies, and chair, department of music

It has been a grueling month.

           President Summers, I am relieved that you have released the full transcript of your remarks made at that event, and I acknowledge your apology, particularly its reference to individuals who have suffered backlash from disputing your remarks. However,  I remain deeply concerned as I watch this controversy continue to take a great toll on the colleagues, students, and staff all around us, not to mention the negative impact on Harvard's standing in the wider world.

           We congregate here as a deeply split faculty, some colleagues arguing that the situation is beyond repair and that we need new leadership, while others defend both your remarks made at NBER and your leadership style. I personally have been distressed by the style and substance of your NBER talk, but retain hope that we can as a university community find a way to begin to repair the damage and rebuild trust. Let me speak frankly in a spirit of constructive criticism.

           It strikes me that the major controversies to date during your tenure have emerged in large part from your consistent attempts to provoke, whether in individual interactions or in public contexts. You yourself have made it clear that provocation was your intent throughout the NBER transcript. I believe that this confrontational style—usually to the exclusion of other rhetorical strategies—has crippled your ability to open and sustain meaningful channels of communication. To provoke is, in one of its definitions, to challenge, a quality most of us in the academy surely endorse and value. But a provocative style also has strong subsidiary meanings and dangerous potentials--to arouse, to anger, and even, to enrage.

           As a musician, I am accustomed to thinking about style in terms that blur the distinction between style and content so often made in rhetoric—in music, the elements that define the style of a composition also constitute its content.

           In the same way, in my opinion, style is as important in the halls of power and governance as it is in the arts. Your provocative style has been further amplified by your willingness to speak at length concerning subjects on which you are admittedly not expert and for which you offer incomplete or problematic data. That you often qualify such comments with a nod to the limits of your knowledge in a given area and invite disagreement does not lessen the impact of your statements.

           I speak in such detail about style today because I believe that all of us need to consider how we are heard every day, not just at difficult moments such as this one. It seems to me that being mindful of style as content and opening new channels of communication are of the highest priority in our faculty at this point in time. I hope that we might somehow learn from this experience and channel our collective energies to make changes of which Harvard could be proud. The new task forces are a promising start, but I believe that the administration and faculty must fully support their work to make truly substantive changes; I urge that we discuss curricular additions that will enhance the understanding of gender and other forms of difference on our campus; and perhaps most importantly, I hope we can institute changes in the culture of discourse and communication across our institution.


2. Lawrence F. Katz, Allison professor of economics, speaking from notes, said that Summers "has listened to his critics," as evidenced by the release of the transcript of his January 14 NBER remarks, his creation of the task forces on women faculty members and women in the sciences, and his comments at the beginning of the current meeting. Katz said that he, too, had seen mistakes made by the president, but he wanted to address the issues of governance, the role of the central administration, and the role of the faculty—specifically, did strong central leadership reduce the faculty's ability to accomplish its goals.

           

           As an example, he recalled the last special meeting of the faculty, in the spring of 2001, following the sit-in at Massachusetts Hall over the wages of the University's lowest-paid service workers (janitors, security guards, and food-service workers). Then, Katz said, the faculty worried that previous weak central leadership had allowed the issue of treatment for the most vulnerable workers to drift. As members of the faculty, student, administration, and worker committee learned, the issue had gone unaddressed by faculty for as much as 20 years. Decisions were made by school administrators and bureaucrats, hurting workers and damaging Harvard's reputation as there were supervisory abuses, lack of accountability, and other problems that "disenfranchised all of us." Even when recommendations for change were made, they were not implemented, and there was no transparency.

            When the committee Katz chaired to address the problem delivered its report, Summers, in contrast, wrote a response, indicating how he reacted to each recommendation. Wages were improved, contracting practices were changed, and a transparent check-list of actions taken was created, as were annual reports on progress and audits of school compliance. In the process, Katz said, Summers engaged with the committee, listened to evidence, challenged committee members, and changed his own mind to arrive at far-reaching solutions for the University. All that made credible the changes in views the president said he had arrived at since the NBER symposium and its aftermath.

            Katz also said non-research, non-teaching staff at the University had grown 50 percent—to 5,100—from 1996 to 2001, consuming resources tied to the academic mission. That was an example of lack of accountability when the University did not have strong leadership. Now, it can better use its resources.

           Katz's bottom line was that the current acrimony was disheartening to someone who had learned to love Harvard during the past 20 years. It was important to move forward with "vigorous and energetic leadership to meet our common goals."


3. James L. Watson, professor of Chinese society and Harvard College Professor

This is the first time in my 16 years at Harvard that I have spoken at an FAS Faculty Meeting – and I hope this will be my last.

            I have taught at five universities, some of which were facing serious difficulties. But I have never seen anything like the firestorm currently enveloping us.

            My primary concern today is faculty recruitment and retention—as well as the future of graduate admissions. What do I tell my younger colleagues—particularly women—when they ask me about their future at Harvard? Do I tell them to ignore what they read with their own eyes and focus, instead, on promises of reform?

            This year I am chair of a graduate admissions committee. Many applicants, both women and men, are visiting our campus and asking some very pointed questions about Harvard’s attitudes toward women. These are the kind of young people who will receive multiple offers from competing institutions.

            We are in deep trouble on many fronts, not the least of which is the recruitment of a new generation. My question to President Summers is: “What would be your response to these younger scholars?” Thank you.


4. Stephen Owen, Conant University Professor

The real issue at stake is the governance of the university. It seems obvious that if there were not a much deeper problem in the relationship between many faculty in FAS and the president, the faculty would have responded less intensely to the president's remarks and would have been willing to accept that he can learn. The occasion opened up something, and we need to understand what it is.

           The situation seems like nothing so much as an arranged marriage gone sour. I've watched faculty meetings for almost a quarter century, and they used to be very sleepy affairs. What happened last week came from long-simmering anger. It didn't start out that way. If this is a marriage gone wrong, we have to understand where and how it went wrong.

           In leadership, style is substance. Attitudes come out in words. The president came in promising that he was going to "shake things up." It's not that the FAS faculty is against change, but effective leaders inspire the community, so that the "shaking up" comes from the community itself. From the very beginning the president claimed sole agency; he was going to do something to us. Perhaps that was the beginning of the anger.

           We experience some things in university governance directly, but for most things we depend on hearsay. We know that hearsay is bad evidence for judgment. But when hearsay becomes predictive, it becomes ground for judgment. We have often read or heard that the president wanted to achieve some end. Committees are established to study the matter and present recommendations; we know people on these committees and we hear about the variety of problems and proposals; however, when the outcome is announced, it is pretty much identical to what we heard as the president's wish in the beginning. This has happened more than once. This gives at the very least the appearance that the faculty's labor-intensive procedures of self-government are mere show.

           The president understands the necessity of superficially following the FAS mechanisms of self-governance; he understands that he cannot rule by fiat. But he wants to achieve his goals, not let FAS set its own goals. We see a disjunction between private intention and his recognition of the forms of the institution.

           If this is true—and I have to say that this could be almost four years of faculty misapprehensions—then we have several things. We have the classic conflict between the autocrat and the polis, the self-governing community. In the polis if you are asked to serve on a committee, you give up your Sunday afternoons for a semester to study a problem—not because you are compelled to, but for the good of the community. You do a great deal of work you don't have to do for the sake of the community. What you gain from such continuous self-sacrifice of time and effort is the profound sense that the community belongs to you. However, when you feel that your efforts are mere show, that you are no longer in control of decisions being made, then there is anger.

           The second consequence is a loss of trust, and there is no worse thing in any social organization than a loss of trust. The polis, the self-governing community, feels that it is being used by the ruler for goals the ruler has decided before hand. Values that were previously taken seriously are seen as mere rhetoric, mere appearance.

           There is a great deal at stake here. Are we to be a self-governing community, which feels fully in charge of its own fate—perhaps awkward, ponderous, and a bit institutionally conservative—but a true local community directing itself, or are we to be directed, directed to goals that we did not initiate? Perhaps such leadership from the top can take us outside of our old habits, achieve better results than we could ourselves in our collective fumbling. Even if that were so, is it worth the loss of the self-governing community, whose members feel both effective and in charge of their own fate?

           The only hope to save the marriage is to revisit the basic terms of the contract. Let me describe the institutional structure of the university in recent memory, which seems to have been forgotten. The role of the president, vested with a special kind of power and authority by the Corporation, is to sit above the deans. The president deals with university matters and represents the values of the university. Presidential authority at Harvard is an essential part of a complex structure of checks and balances. There is in the office too much financial and political power, answerable only to the Governing Boards, to legislate the particulars of policy for any faculty. It is, rather, the dean who leads his or her faculty. The dean is part of the faculty and close to the faculty and may return to the faculty; the dean is part of our self-governance. The issue now is not with the current FAS dean. The situation we now face is an institutional crisis in which the president seems to be using that higher authority vested in him by the Corporation to set agendas and lead a faculty in the particulars of its operation. The very qualities that make a good CEO are inherently in conflict with a self-governing community. This disrupts the checks and balances of the system, changes the government of FAS, and creates resistance. And perhaps the most troubling [thing] is that the CEO understands that he must keep up the appearance of self-governance.

           My question is: Given this widescale breakdown of trust, can we clarify what the respective roles of president, dean, and faculty are in FAS policy, and can we vote to see if we accept those roles? Are we citizens or employees? If we have become employees, I think we would like to know.

           

President Summers responded that in his opening remarks, he intended to show awareness of exactly those issues, and that Professor Owen had expressed matters exactly right: "Much greater clarity is in order." As for the CEO model versus the polis model of governance, he wished to state as clearly as possible that the latter was the model in place going forward.


5. Nancy L. Rosenblum, Clark professor of ethics in politics and government and chair, department of government

The tenor of last Tuesday's faculty meeting caught me by surprise. A colleague who studies political dissent wondered whether we were present at a rebellion or a revolution. Having just lectured on Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, it brought to mind the Roman institution of public accusation: perfectly constitutional, leveled by any citizen, and dependent on a stern sense of personal responsibility.

That's my concern – our responsibility, and in the spirit of a congenital moderate I offer three cautionary observations and an opinion. 

           1. In her Godkin Lecture on leadership, Nan Keohane [president emerita of Duke, and a newly appointed member of the Harvard Corporation, effective July 1, 2005; she lectured February 16 at the Kennedy School of Government] pointed out that the usual metaphor of the university as a large ship is misleading and proposed the image of a flotilla. FAS is the battleship in the group, but Harvard is more than the college and GSAS [Graduate School of Arts and Sciences] and we should know by now that what happens here is seen publicly as an expression of the university as a whole. Colleagues at the law and medical schools I spoke with naturally felt disenfranchised. They have different evaluations of Summers's presidency, and express them in different registers. Which is not to encourage their faculties to convene; only to urge modesty, and that we keep the rest of the flotilla in view as we steam ahead.

           2. Open letters preceded and followed last week's meeting. Petitions never say just what we as individuals would want to say; they are collective compositions, inevitably compromised. Still, under some political circumstances we sign—to demonstrate numbers and to affect events. I didn't sign any of the letters because I feared they would take on a divisive life of their own. They have functioned as invitations to demonstrate loyalty to the Summers party or to the opposition—as informal votes of confidence, or as occasions to form alliances defined by concern for women faculty or freedom of speech. They've spawned new pressures and mutual accusations: the letter of support, for example, has been portrayed as an "orchestrated" public-relations drive, and colleagues are urged to "show the flag." There are all sorts of academic factions that roil my department and yours, I'm sure. These particular divisions are of our making, and if we multiply occasions for them or entrench them, they will inhibit us from reaching the agreement we need on concrete business.

           3. Already, in the ongoing cycle of accusation and apology, substance has gotten short shift. Close textual analysis is what many of us do, and the President's NBER remarks are parsed for meaning and intention and "reader response"—though no interpretation makes them academically creditable, as he has conceded. Meanwhile, the opportunity unwittingly created has been eclipsed. Drew Faust [dean of the Radcliffe Institute and coordinator of the two University task forces appointed by Summers] says the task forces on women faculty "will focus on action." That should be our focus. Along with emerging suggestions for governance changes – if what we want looking ahead is not just strained politeness from the President but more regular and transparent ways for him to listen to faculty and for faculty to have greater influence on appropriate decisions. 

           There's striking agreement in descriptions of the President's frailties and strengths. It's the evaluations that diverge—not surprising given the fine line between "the confidence necessary to be comfortable with power" and arrogance, between indifference to the trappings of authority and inattention to the reverberations of authority (Keohane, Godkin). Obviously, our experiences vary. Some of you sat with me on the committee Summers chaired to choose a dean for the Kennedy School–the most open process I've participated in in over 30 years of search committees. So I have seen his capacity for sobriety and consultation close up. As a department chair I've seen his changing (is it patronizing to say evolving?) understanding of scholarly fields and the range of what counts as quality in them. In my view, Summers has dispositions indispensable at this moment, when getting the boats of the flotilla working together and building another campus require qualities he has in abundance – courage and a thick skin.

           I hope after today we will have talked ourselves out on the question, can Larry Summers effectively lead? The question is, can we? It is our job to make him successful as president of Harvard. That's my point. We are responsible for forcefully offering advice in the face of resistance, for opposing bad policy and actively supporting good policy, and for proposing institutional change. We can't do this with divisive parties and emergency meetings and more rounds of public accusation. A dispiriting claim was made last week: that FAS faculty are suffering a "terrible loss of morale and responsible citizenship." Knowing my colleagues, and participating in the last week's discussion, I'm confident it's wrong.


6. Caroline Hoxby, professor of economics

I rise to speak today in part because who I am helps to define what this discussion is not about. This discussion is not about right versus left. Nor is it about political correctness. No one who knows my research thinks that I am politically correct. This discussion is not about free speech. I believe in voicing one's opinion and, because I am a scholar, in having an opinion that is based on evidence and logic.  This discussion is not about economists versus everyone else. I am a dyed-in-the-wool economist, and I love the give and take of a good economics seminar, which is characterized by incisive and free-ranging questions. But, a good economics seminar never descends to bullying or personal aspersions, and being an economist does not give one license to use such methods.

           This discussion is about management: how to manage a university well.  What is a university? To be sure, there is an outer crust of buildings, equipment, and finances. These things are valuable but fundamentally replaceable. The core of a university is its faculty, which is not only a set of great individual intellectuals but which is an amazing, self-perpetuating network of scholarship and teaching that advances through time. This network is maintained by ten of thousands of voluntary ties. Every time one of us engages intellectually with a colleague, in agreement or disagreement or pure curiosity, we build a tie. Every time we discuss how to teach or advise a dissertation, we build a tie. This network is inter-generational. Many of us were drawn into academia because people in previous generations threw out lines, as it were, to us across time and space. Perhaps because we are grateful to our intellectual forebears, we are eager to throw out lines to the next generation, to create scholars and leaders whose decisions and ethics are informed by thousands of years of thought. When a university is functioning at its best, looking at its core is like looking at a great shimmering web, shimmering because energy is flowing along all the ties.

           How can this web work when it is so dependent on voluntary engagements for which there is no tangible reward? It works because we have respect for one another's intellectual expertise; because we have respect for one another's teaching experience; and because we are true believers in our shared intellectual enterprise. We identify with the university's mission. Every time, Mr. President, you show a lack of respect for a faculty member's intellectual expertise, you break ties in our web. Every time you humiliate or silence a faculty member, you break ties in our web. Any time you deride a faculty member's knowledge of teaching and of Harvard students, which is based on hard-won experience, you break ties in our web. When you engage in speech that harms the university's ability to foster scholarship and that is not thoughtful, not deliberate, and not grounded in deep knowledge, you break ties by the hundreds. When, in the aftermath of such speech, you allow outside commentators to defend you by attacking the integrity of this faculty, you convey the impression that you do not identify with the university and you undermine the basis of our shared enterprise.

           Sometimes it seems, Mr. President, that you (and perhaps the Corporation also) have a view of some of this faculty that is a caricature: self-absorbed people who care a great deal about their privileges and not much about their students and the quest for knowledge. The result of this caricatured view is that it seems logical to adopt a management strategy in which decisions are discussed with only a small inner circle, there are forums for airing views but few mechanisms for incorporating them, and resistance is assumed to stem from obstinacy, not thought and experience.

           I do not know where you, and perhaps the Corporation also, got this caricatured view of the faculty, but it is not true to my experience. My experience is that this faculty is incredibly dedicated and hard-working and, if anything, inclined to hide how much work they do from students for fear of discouraging them. My experience is that this faculty is passionate about research and passionate about students and struggles every day with the tension between the two. Every student wants faculty to take an hour out of research for teaching; every student wants to work with faculty who are on the cutting edge of research. The tension is fundamental, and often faculty relieve it by taking another hour from their families or personal lives. My experience is that faculty are deeply invested in the success of the university and willing to consider any change that will improve it. In my experience, they are people who are not only willing to be convinced by their colleagues, but accustomed to being convinced by colleagues who make a good case.

           If one adopts my view of this faculty, then the logical management strategy is one in which problems and solutions can be openly discussed, consensus can be built, and, most importantly, it is assumed that the faculty are knowledgeable and worthy of trust.

           Our presence in this room today leaves little doubt that the management strategy practiced for the past three and a half years has worked less than well. The question for each of us today is not whether the President can change superficial aspects of his management style but whether he will come to trust this faculty's expertise and intentions. Only if he does, I believe, can this university succeed as it deserves to succeed.


7. Cynthia Friend, Richards professor of chemistry and professor of materials science, and chair of the department of chemistry and chemical biology

President Summers:  The discussion in the wake of the NBER episode has touched on a number of issues and triggered an outpouring of voices that have been silent until now. We wish to make some observations, both to you, and the faculty at large.

           We feel this outpouring must not disrupt the normal workings of the University. We are strong believers that we must collectively ensure that Harvard functions well as an Institution. If this episode consumes too much of our collective  time, we all lose.

           We believe we need to offer constructive criticisms and concrete suggestions. The letter being circulated by our colleagues in Economics referred to your intention to "…bring substantive changes…" to your leadership approach. We speak to two particular topics relevant  to changes we perceive as important:

           In talking with Chairs of related sciences, we see the departments and the FAS under a lot of stress. Some of this stems from the handling of the growth of the University in the form of Centers and Institutes. Some of this is the consequence of the curriculum review. Ultimately, we believe these initiatives can be beneficial, but it is important to have the faculty engaged. It is important to ensure that the entire faculty is consulted through the departments and through FAS and that a clear model is developed for growth that does not penalize ongoing activities,  such as graduate student stipends—an area of looming crisis facing most Natural Science departments. This implies that the FAS have sufficient resources to be able to manage growth. This also implies some degree of faith on your part that we are indeed capable of well-regulated self-governance.


8. John Huth, professor of physics and chair of the department of physics

The second issue is more directly related to the question of gender and equality. In the upcoming months, we will see deliberations on this issue. It's important to remember that people want to be recognized for their talent in academia. We would not want to see a situation where women are hired and feel that they are under some cloud of suspicion that this is only because of their gender. They should be viewed first and foremost as talented colleagues.

           We are also concerned about your statements regarding the expectation of 80-hour work weeks and childcare. The implication seems to be that this is a woman-only issue. It's far from it. In this era, men often appropriately take on as much responsibility in a family and often have as much need to spend time with their family as women do. It's not a woman-only issue. - It's a general issue that affects anyone who wants to have a family be part of their life. I've personally had to solo with my three children for weeks on end, act as chair of the physics department,  and somehow manage to eke out time for my research.  Professor Friend was a single parent of two children while working towards tenure.  Others may have aging parents or an ailing partner or spouse, or health problems of their own.

           If we create a culture that recognizes certain universal social needs, everyone benefits. Rather than couch these in terms of gender, we should consider how all faculty juggle teaching, research, service to the University, and family and how Harvard can support them.

           We welcome your comments on these important issues.


President Summers said he agreed and, as he had noted in his comment on Professor Owen's remarks, he concurred in identifying the role of the faculty and its dean as central.


9. Douglas Melton, Cabot professor of the natural sciences (and chair of FAS's Life Sciences Council, and faculty co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute

This is not meant as a comment on the heart-felt sentiments that others have expressed. Rather, it is to offer a different perspective on what I see as the principal issues. In my view, President Summers has brought energy and intelligence to four areas.           

           The first that I'll touch on is the one which we've been discussing today, which is diversity. My experience in discussing this issue with him is that he has forced scientists to examine their prejudices and understand how we can increase the diversity of our faculty. I feel that he wants to rigorously analyze the causes for underrepresentation and institute policies to make sure that it's permanently eradicated.

           The second issue where I feel he's brought real vision is the place of science at Harvard. Here, he's challenged us to plan for an expansion in science and engineering so that, in my view, the sciences can have a place in the University that is commensurate with their importance to our society.

           The third issue, which has already been discussed, is Allston planning. Again, I feel there has been a deliberate process, one that could certainly be improved, but I feel that everyone has had a chance and will continue to have a chance to help the University plan for Allston, and in this arena I feel his charge has been not simply, How do we expand the University? but How do we make Allston a special place? How can it be not just more of the same?

           Finally, the fourth area is education. Here, again, I feel President Summers has brought his intelligence and energy to the question of what we should teach and how we should do it. In my time here, it's only after President Summers's instigation that scientists from different departments sat down together and tried to hammer out a new curriculum. It reminded me that what we all want to do as scholars and teachers is to advance knowledge by asking and answering questions. 

           In all these areas, I feel he has provoked, which seems to be the word of the day, fresh thought and big ideas. So my question, Dean Kirby, then, is: Is there not a different forum in which those who wish to discuss management style and their legitimate complaints can discuss these matters so that this body can attend to some or all of the four issues I've addressed above?


Dean Kirby reminded the faculty that he would convene informal discussions with the president for that purpose.


10. Philip A. Kuhn, Higginson professor of history and of East Asian languages and civilizations

I suggest we pause for a moment to imagine how these proceedings will be judged by our successors a generation hence, in hopes that we can learn from the mistakes we have already made and perhaps avoid worse ones.

           If there are any China historians still around, they might recognize, in our session of last Tuesday, an old-fashioned Chinese struggle-session. In the 1960s, the designated target (let's call him Mr. Liu) would be set upon by his colleagues (soon to be his former colleagues), his back already against the wall because of an injudicious remark or a deviation of policy, or simply because he was on the wrong side of a factional divide. Mr. Liu would then be assailed retrospectively for every flaw of omission or of commission, every quirk of personality or unsatisfactory class standpoint. Everyone felt compelled either to join in the assault or to remain silent, to avoid being next on the list of targets. Mr. Liu would then be expelled from his job, or much worse. Those were ugly spectacles.

           Chinese had—and still have—no channel to confront their leaders through legitimate procedures. But we have question periods at every FAS meeting. This question period (which I gather we're still in) is one of the very few to have provoked anything but deafening silence. Has nobody felt the urgency to question the policies of the administration and their appointed committees? Is there no gripping issue begging for discussion? The corrupting effect of our graduate funding system upon our college curriculum? The tectonic—and still undebated—shift of priorities that will result from expansion of the faculty without expansion of graduate cohorts? If question periods can be used to impeach our president, they surely can be used to alert him to our concerns. Maybe our successors will ask where we were when Larry needed us!

           And where is this so-called "fear and intimidation" coming from? Can anyone on earth have less to fear than a tenured Harvard professor? Shouldn't tenure impose an obligation to speak out plainly and often? Our successors will hold us in contempt—unless, heaven forbid, they're just like us.

           Finally, let's be careful what we ask for: We might get it! Do we want a president who is smooth, polished, always correct? Who would sooner say nothing than risk giving offense? Who could be counted on to agree with the last person spoken to? Who has traded intellectual passion for managerial finesse? Do we want President Bland? President Platitude? President Unmemorable? There are plenty of those on the national university scene. Is that really what Harvard needs? I don't think so.


11. Daniel S. Fisher, professor of physics and professor of applied physics

I believe that faculty should speak out on important societal issues and be provocative in intellectual discussions far more often than most do. And university presidents should, too. But university presidents—even more than the rest of us—should have the privilege of being judged, not on their offhand remarks, but on their actions.

           Indeed, we all know—even those who profit from pretending the opposite—that Summers' outspokenness is NOT the primary issue at hand. The issue is his MIS-governance of Harvard. 

           I support most of the STATED goals of our current president—especially strengthening science, improving the curriculum, and planning for the future rather than extending the past. But leaders should be judged not by their stated goals—after all, even dictators often claim admirable intentions—but by what they DO.

           As a scientist I have learned that the only route to progress and understanding is through questions. So I hope my colleagues will forgive me for asking some questions about the future of science at Harvard.

           Three years ago, in spite of a few problems, the future looked remarkably bright. How does it look now?

           We must ask, first and foremost: What are the goals? To do what other universities are doing? To expand in fields that the Government, in its infinite wisdom, is currently funding lavishly? Or to take advantage of Harvard's unique strengths—its wealth, its excellent faculty, its stellar students, and, yes, its relatively small size—to develop science in ways that no other university can? To focus on short-term problems—medical and technological? Or to focus on science in the best spirit of free inquiry?

           Second, What are the possibilities? Given a variety of assumptions about the availability of resources, what COULD be done? Is a major expansion, either in faculty numbers or in physical size, needed? Or are there better ways? Should scientific goals be compromised for government or industrial funding? Or should Harvard money be used to seed and support at modest—and perhaps occasionally immodest—levels research whose subject or open-ended nature limits opportunities for external funding?

           Are "centers" and "initiatives" intrinsically good for science?  Or are they primarily means for raising funds and furthering the careers of those who want to run them?—especially troubling when those SAME faculty also dominate decision making. Should interdisciplinary science happen by pronouncement? Should it be located far from other faculty? Surely interdisciplinarity is not a good in itself; indeed it is all too often an excuse for hype and LOSS of discipline. REAL interdisciplinary science evolves, rather than being created by divine intervention. In fact this happened at Harvard a few years ago in biological physical chemistry—although such a field does not exist—and in applied mathematics—in a broader sense of the term than used anywhere else.

           What about science in Allston? Is it to open options for the long term as is claimed publicly? The year 2045 is often cited—far enough in the future that NO one knows what either science or Harvard will be like. Or is Allston a place to build theme-park science and make a big splash as fast as possible? And is the obsession with Allston draining energy, focus, and money from essential projects?

           I have not heard—or heard of—these questions being asked under Summers: not by the president, not by the provost, not even by the FAS deans. What happened to the advisory group on the Lander/Broad institute? Terminated. The University Steering Committee on Computational Biology? Terminated. The University Committee on Biology Graduate Programs? Terminated. Or even the Life Sciences Planning Committee, which started with much fanfare? Terminated after one meeting. Why all these SHOW committees? So that—under the GUISE of openness—decisions can be made in secret. In secret by he-who-knows-best, without risk of contamination by thoughtful input from faculty.

           And the important questions about science have certainly not been asked on the Allston task forces chaired so incompetently by the Provost. Indeed, what is the charge of the Science and Technology Task Force? Is it just for Allston? Or more general? Is it only for "centers" and "initiatives"? Or for all science? And, most troubling, has any of the little process that has taken place been in good faith? I, for one, am deeply skeptical.

           Whatever its charge, one would surely expect the Task Force on Science and Technology to meet with knowledgeable scientists. But has it? Or has it only met with development officers? Can Harvard University, of all institutions, REALLY no longer distinguish between academic goals and fund-raising?

           And what about within FAS? Where have the open debates been? Where is the report on FAS and Allston that was commissioned by Summers himself? This Knowles-Maull report—full of useful information—was buried so that even Faculty Council Members—our elected representatives—can only see it under lock and key. But were Dean Kirby's many refusals to release this report really HIS decisions?

           The ONLY FAS meeting on Allston science planning, a "town meeting" in this room last winter, was attended by very few science faculty. Why? Because they did not want to participate in a charade? Nevertheless, Charlie Marcus [professor of physics,  and scientific director of the Center for Imaging and Mesoscale Structures] and Alyssa Goodman [professor of astronomy], who chaired the meeting, called for the discussion and questions to be broadened to include ALL science—NOT just for Allston. But was this ideal opening endorsed by the Deans? In spite of a promise by Dean Kirby, it was NOT; neither was it supported by Doug Melton [speaker number 9, above] or Venky Narayanamurti [Armstrong professor of engineering and applied sciences, professor of physics, dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and dean of physical sciences]. One must ask: Were these decisions really THEIRS? I doubt many faculty believe they were. So why does Summers BLAME Dean Kirby for all the problems in FAS?

           Summers recently claimed he "believe[s] that raising questions, discussing multiple factors that may explain a difficult problem, and seeking to understand how they interrelate is vitally important" [New York Times, January 18, 2005]. So WHY does Summers insist, for science planning and for so much else, on "prepruned decision trees" (his term)? And WHY does Summers use "open-minded" to mean closed to all options but those he likes? I am sorry, Larry, I try to keep an open mind, but not so open that my brain falls out.

           So where are we now, after three and a half years of Summers' double-speak and squandered opportunities? Yes, this debate among the faculty is divisive; no, it should not be carried out in the media; and, yes, a relatively minor gaffe has been used to unveil the deeper problems. But the divisiveness, the emphasis on the media, and—most damningly—the ensuring that open debate cannot take place by conventional means, are all due to one person: Lawrence Summers.

           What could have been a great presidency has—as many of us here today have known for some time—failed miserably in all but words. For the good of Harvard, Lawrence Summers should resign. Or the Corporation—who have shown shockingly little interest in what has actually been going on—must fire him. We cannot wait for irreparable harm to be done to this great institution. The Harvard we have come to value so highly cannot survive in a climate of intellectual dishonesty.


12. Jeremy R. Knowles, Houghton professor of chemistry and biochemistry (and dean emeritus of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and an adviser to the president and provost on Allston planning)

Members of the Faculty will understand my distress that we should find ourselves in this place. When I came here 30 years ago, I found superb students, unmatched colleagues, and a truly exciting environment. Occasionally there were Departmental distractions or University diversions, but I enjoyed the liberation of intellectual engagement, as a member of this very special Faculty. That was why I came, and that was why it was ultimately inconceivable that I should ever leave. Then, when I succumbed to the Deanship, I hoped that I could, in turn, help to cherish the community that had supported me for two decades. In my time in University Hall, we certainly had moments of tension and disagreement, and we certainly had times of disturbance and anxiety. But on every one of those occasions of stress, the Faculty's deep wisdom, and its commitment to thoughtful discussion and resolution, carried us through. Even at the time of the sit-in in Massachusetts Hall, opposing and passionate colleagues argued matters of urgency and substance with the President, with both intensity and care. I'm not saying all this to be merely autobiographical, but rather to explain why I'm so distressed now.

           I devoutly hope that we can sustain the strong traditions of this Faculty, and call upon them once again to carry us through. We're much more diverse, in every sense, than any other Faculty at Harvard, yet we maintain a respectful collegiality where the intellectual powers of each of us are stretched, and fulfilled.  As a Faculty, we have great ambitions and great hopes, and I'm dismayed that we're being distracted from these goals.

           I do understand the concerns that have been so powerfully expressed today and a week ago. There are issues of substance, and questions of style, both of which are important. We've heard expressions of distrust of the President, and of resentment of his style as silencing, and we've heard Faculty colleagues divided in ways that threaten to fracture our community. Of course the Faculty must voice its concerns. Yet I'm equally sure that we must not throw ourselves into continuing destructive retrospection. The President is at least as distressed by recent events as are all of us, and out of this shared distress, we must find a way to replace both silence and contention, with reasoned interchange. We must find a steadier course. How might we do this?

           Over the weekend, I spoke with two colleagues, Sid Verba and Theda Skocpol, who want—like very many of us—to find a way to move beyond the present position, and responsibly to help set a new course. We should like to suggest that the Dean and the President accept the services of the three of us, as a group of committed institutional partisans who would work in the coming year: to help reshape the interactions between the President and the Faculty, and to help communicate the Faculty's concerns to the Governing Boards. We thought that this group could ensure—by direct communication—that the President and the Corporation are appropriately informed of the range of views and concerns of the Faculty. Somehow, we must establish the conditions for a true collaboration between the FAS and Massachusetts Hall.

           I recognize the presumptuousness (as well, perhaps, as the masochism) of the three of us—together with Dean Kirby—in offering ourselves in support of the Faculty.  But we were at a loss to think of a better exit from the present, unworkable, situation.

           Before the First War, I had a great-uncle who made a motor car called the ‘IRIS.' The name stood for "It runs in silence," and I've always thought that this was a good goal for all university administrations. My great-uncle gave one of these cars to his mother, and when it broke down irretrievably on the Yorkshire moors, she cabled him with the simple message: "It runs irregularly sometimes." University administrations can run irregularly sometimes, and ours now is.

           So we should like to offer our services to the Faculty, and to work towards a better future for the University, about which we feel so passionately.

           Thank you.


13. Sidney Verba, Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the Harvard University Library then spoke about what the group Knowles outlined would do; it was motivated by a desire to help, but with uncertainty about how to proceed. Since Professor Rosenblum had pre-empted his prepared remarks based on Nan Keohane's lecture on leadership, he would begin here: 

            Keohane is a fine political philosopher and drew on political philosophy from Aristotle to Rawls, as well as her experiences as head of a large, hetero-University.

           She asks, what is the nature of a big complex university? And, as is the wont of political philosophers, that is a question that combines What is it? with What should it be? She used various images.  There is the unified image; a large ship, big and cumbersome and hard to move even when one knows the direction in which one wants to go. There is the Harvard image of tubs sitting solidly on their own bottoms, and, if they are going anywhere, going each its own way. Some believe that President Summers's vision for Harvard is the conversion of the many tubs into the big ship—not, perhaps, a cumbersome barge-like vessel, but a sleek cruise ship with a captain steering it to new and exotic lands.

           Her preferred image is neither separate tubs nor a single vessel, but a flotilla, each with its own captain, a dean who commands a good deal of authority, including control of resources. The admiral of the flotilla, the president, does not run each ship. The President helps the ships sail together, fosters joint planning, connections from boat to boat. He or she may, in consultation with other captains, maybe even with many of the crew, sets the general destination of the flotilla, especially when it is going into new waters.  It is a complex task, one that requires balance among many tasks and goals, between central services and coordinated planning and the different directions, and styles of the various ships.

           Nan Keohane talks a good deal about the traits of the good leader under such circumstances. But as you can imagine, it involves a complex balance of skills. She cites some pairs of opposites, both of which are needed: patience and swiftness, flexibility and firmness, compassion and ruthlessness, rhetorical gifts, along with the gift of a good listener.  The compassion and ruthlessness pair she finds surprising to many people, so she spells it out a bit: To succeed as a leader, you must care about the people you are trying to mobilize, direct, and serve; you need a real sense of empathy for them, for their needs and visions of life, But you also have to be willing to make choices that will have negative consequences for some of them. Choosing one course of action inevitably privileges some people and disadvantages others; that can seem ruthless to those who come out on the losing side.  These are wise words: compassion and hard choices both. And though she does not talk of good followership, I might say good leadership requires followers who expect empathy, but at least some may have to expect choices that they do not like.           

           I don't want to join the debate about the genetic basis of behavior nor deal in individual personalities, but I need to quote one pair of sentences about these leadership traits. She asks which of the traits are innate and which can be learned. She says a few are no doubt innate, which helps explain why some people are better than others at being leaders. But most, if not all, can be learned through experiences. Lots of experiences have been going on lately.                      

           So. Many may have noticed I have not yet answered the question of what we want to do as our little troika of a group.  I will dodge the issue for a few more moments to say what we do not intend to be or to do. We would never think of cutting off more general debate and discussion, nor to consider ourselves the representatives for this faculty. This faculty is too big and too heterogeneous a group for there to be anything like one voice. We do not intend to be a constitution committee, drawing up a new set of rules. We do not think this the best approach. We would see our task as facilitators, as honest brokers among this faculty and its many people and parts: the Dean, the President, and the Corporation, and probably others -- not, I pray, the media. We are assured that the Dean, the President, and the Corporation will be open to us.

          So what do we want to accomplish as brokers? These parties need to understand each other better perhaps than they do. They need to be open to each other. They need to realize that we are a complex institution, where power and authority must be shared, where a proper division of labor must be preserved or adjusted where it is not working well. Harvard must be a place where full and frank discussion among all participants is welcome, where decisions involve discussion and negotiation and attention to varied interests and concerns. It will be the case and should be the case that different kinds of decisions will be made in different ways.  The main voice on the curriculum is held by this faculty; we cannot and ought not to try to manage the investments or supervise capital projects.

          There are many big decisions before us, many opportunities to move the University in new directions. Like the flotilla heading into new, somewhat uncharted, but richly promising New World waters, it needs to set a course and to coordinate getting there. It needs leadership, but a leader who creates support for the plan of the voyage. It needs captains of the various ships and the crews of the various ships who speak their views, are heard, and can all work together to get to the destination.           

           Above all, I know I speak for all participants in this University, that we have to move forward to maintain our greatness and we have great opportunities so to do. We will, however, succeed only if we can maintain our community, and only if we work together. That is the responsibility of the University's leadership and the responsibility of every one of us.


14. Theda Skocpol, Thomas professor of government and sociology, said that if the faculty liked the idea of the three-person committee (which was not yet known), its members were committed to working on finding solutions to real problems of governance, including those she raised on February 15. These problems, she said, were real, and went far beyond questions of style. The threesome would in no way substitute for general faculty discussion of concerns, ideas, and solutions, among themselves, with deans, or with the Corporation. Distressing though the conversations in these faculty meetings may have been, she found it wonderful to see people speaking out for the first time in years, because "things obviously need to change" for there to be improvements within the faculty and between the faculty and the president.

Dean Kirby noted that the FAS Resources Committee had been founded under Dean Knowles to address real problems between the faculty and the then-president.

The Docket Committee moved that discussion be extended from 5:30 to 6:00, and the faculty agreed.


15. Thomas Scanlon, Alford professor of natural religion, moral philosophy, and civil policy, voiced agreement with the statements of Professors Owen and Hoxby. The broader issues of governance, not style, meant that questions of trust and of understanding were involved. Accordingly, Scanlon liked the president's opening statement and his response to Owen.

            He had a lot of faith in Knowles, Verba, and Skocpol, but wondered about how to affect the real problem, the "interlocking one of mutual distrust," in which FAS saw the president as controlling (i.e., lacking trust in the faculty), which made the faculty suspicious of his proposals, and so on. How might the group of three restore confidence between the president and the faculty on matters of relative authority, boundaries, and roles? The faculty was surely too large for face-to-face resolution of such issues; could the troika as intermediary generate such confidence?


Knowles responded that trust dissipated when there was inadequate communication. More communication, frankness, and openness, free from fear and intimidation, between the faculty and president, and with the Governing Boards, would be required.

16. David I. Laibson, professor of economics, had intended to speak about the letter of support, published in the Crimson and signed by 186 senior faculty members, but instead would address the Knowles-Verba-Skocpol proposal. He viewed it as constructive, coming from colleagues who had the stature "to do what this faculty has asked of this president" in changing both matters of substance and ways in which the institution operates. The president would be responsive.

            Moreover, this proposal pulls the faculty back from the brink [among other proposals, a movement toward a faculty vote on a motion of no confidence in the president had been discussed in the days leading up to the current faculty meeting]. It gave time—six months, 12, 18—to take advantage of the president's great features and to fix what is flawed. If the process then failed, the controversy would be reinvigorated, with divisiveness,  movement toward a vote of no confidence, and calls for drastic change. Stepping back from that was a valuable opportunity to fix problems that are real.


17. Philip Fisher, Reid professor of English and American literature, said he was surprised that the proposal for the troika had been advanced "15 minutes before adjournment." While the three people involved were eminent, the process was not in the least democratic, when faculty voices needed to be involved. The proposal and meeting felt like an arranged outcome. At this "democratic moment" for the faculty, the proposal felt wrong. It should be discussed further; others should not speak for the faculty here.


18. Stanley Hoffman, Buttenwieser University Professor, agreed with Fisher. He admired the troika, but it was not a very democratic way of handling things. If the faculty voted to proceed this way, the group needed a humanities representative, because many humanities faculty members feel disenfranchised.


Knowles said the idea was not a "fix" of any kind; the idea had arisen in conversation among the threesome. In light of the discussion, he withdrew the idea, so that the faculty at large could continue its conversation with President Summers.


Dean Kirby said there would be numerous paths for such conversations to proceed.


19. Susan J. Pharr, Reischauer professor of Japanese politics

We would not be here today if there were not a lot of different issues that people are concerned about.

           Thus it's really too bad to see the debate portrayed in the media as a contest between academic freedom, on the one hand, and the forces of political correctness, on the other, or about whether women's overall chances in science, engineering, math, and a wide range of other highly quantitative fields including economics, are still, even today, circumscribed in some way by genetic endowments.

           But that is the way the debate is being framed, so I want to make three points about the President's January 14 remarks, from the perspective of someone who has been very involved, over my 18 years here, in trying to make Harvard a better place for women.

           First, with due respect to my colleagues who think differently, the issue raised by the President's remarks is not academic freedom. It's about judgment. As far as I am concerned, the President has a perfect right to say whatever he thinks, whenever he wants to. The problem, however, is that when leaders of major institutions speak, their remarks have far-ranging consequences, which is why you can read those remarks in faraway places like the Borneo News. We see this difference between leaders and ordinary people all the time. For example, lawyers can freely air their opinions, but when they become judges, they have to weigh every word that they say publicly. Similarly, when Harvard professors speak out on controversial issues, no one seriously thinks that it is the official voice of Harvard speaking. But when Harvard's President speaks, it is a different matter. A great many people, inside and outside the institution, do think that his views reflect Harvard's policies and views.

           That brings me to my second point, which is that timing-wise, the President's remarks seemed especially unfortunate. Over the past three years, which regrettably coincides exactly with the period of this administration, FAS's record on bringing women into the senior ranks went into something of a downward spiral. There has been a sharp decline in the number of senior offers to women in FAS, and last year's result was especially dismal: only 4 out of 32 FAS senior offers went to women. (That figure includes both internal promotions and offers to scholars at other institutions.)  

           And the fact of the matter is that this drop-off comes on the heels of a lot of progress at Harvard in hiring women. Thirty-four years ago, on May 25, 1971, in an FAS Faculty Meeting in Sanders Theatre attended by 285 faculty members, Professor Emily Vermeule rose to her feet and told the assembled group that a committee upon which she served had found that Harvard had the absolute worst record of any major institution in the country when it came to hiring women.

           Then, after a slow start, Harvard in fact began to make gains. In 1988 women made up only 7 percent of the FAS senior faculty, but by 2001, the figure was almost 20 percent, which put Harvard in the middle of the pack among elite institutions when it comes to bringing women fully into the senior ranks. But since then, there has been the drop-off I described.

             And I think it's fair to say that until quite recently, the President's response to this downturn was disappointing to many of us. The FAS Standing Committee on Women has been making suggestions, and a new group (the Harvard FAS Senior Faculty Caucus for Gender Equality) made up of almost 90 percent of the FAS senior faculty women, along with a number of male faculty, have been brainstorming and making suggestions on ways to turn the situation around. But if I were to characterize the administration's response, it has pretty much been, "Thanks for telling us your concerns, but leave it to us." Back in October, the President surprised a group of 50 of us by saying essentially that. "You can tell us what you think the problem is, but don't tell us how to solve it" (here I am paraphrasing from notes taken at the meeting).

           In that same meeting, the President came across as fairly dismissive of social factors as a source of some of the problems faculty women face at Harvard, to the point that finally, a historian among us put her hand up and said, "Won't you just acknowledge that Harvard in the past was a very hard place for women, that there was real discrimination, and that there are still some problems?" And the President replied, and here I am paraphrasing, "Yes, certainly that was true in the past, but not, I don't really think, in the last 10 to 15 years; however, if you know anybody who's experienced discrimination, they should send me an email." 

           I don't want to be belabor this, and I believe the President was absolutely sincere when he said that he would not tolerate discrimination, but the point is, that his response, frankly, didn't really meet the concerns of a number of us, or respond to our genuine desire to work with him to solve a common problem.

           We spent a lot of time over the fall trying to inform him about various difficulties academic women experience here at Harvard and elsewhere. I cannot say that the response was very heartening. Inevitably it was in this context that many of us read the NBER transcript and were sorry, but not surprised, to see him pretty much dismissing social factors in giving us his opinions on why women stay underrepresented in academic life.

           My third point is about the unintended consequences of the President's remarks from the standpoint of those of us who care about issues relating to women.  Several effects are exceedingly positive. We have two new Task Forces, and I am pleased to serve on one of them. Another positive effect is that the administration is now pushing very hard to improve our numbers of women faculty, and for this I express appreciation to both the Dean and President.

           But, inevitably, there are also some negative effects. Women scholars and graduate students, like their male counterparts, want to go to places that offer them a welcoming environment. And at the moment, as a result of the President's comments and the negative media coverage they triggered, Harvard isn't perceived that way by a lot of people. We as a faculty are going to have to work very hard on the recruitment and retention of women, and I ask you today to join me in that effort.

           Finally, one last concern. Obviously, the administration now feels under substantial pressure to improve its numbers, and in that situation there could be an understandable temptation to look for quick fixes, or to impose solutions from above. Thus I want to say for the record that I and virtually every other faculty member who cares deeply about the faculty hiring issue, counsel patience and giving careful thought to what we are doing. Like Emily Vermeule 34 years ago, we are in it for the long haul. We want to see Harvard hire and promote women of excellence, and to do so in ways that are consistent with treasured principles of faculty governance and department-based decision-making.


President Summers said he wished to associate himself with Professor Pharr's remarks. He had learned a great deal from January 14 on, and from the prior faculty meeting discussion on December 14 [see "Women and Tenure," in the March-April issue of Harvard Magazine], and was committed to making progress in the areas Pharr suggested. Certainly the aim was to make progress for the long haul, both on the concerns of women as members of the faculty and on the general concerns raised throughout the meeting this afternoon.

           He found two phrases particularly resonant. First was the necessity of seeking civic engagement. He was committed to it. It was not up to him to set all the terms of that engagement. But there could be no doubt that Harvard could not move ahead without civic engagement.

           Second was Professor Scanlon's comment on the "cycle of distrust." That suggested the nature of the problem, which could not be fixed or addressed in a day by some statement by Summers, or by a single committee or a single act. It was his obligation to address the problem, and to work closely with the dean, with all present, and with other people beyond this room. Doing so, he said, was "not going to be completely easy." He could not serve the University well by saying "yes" to every request or suggestion—although "Certainly my errors have not been in that direction in the past. " Informal means for better communication with this faculty and the Governing Boards pointed the way to moving forward.

           Summers said he would be "the first to recognize that without a sense of genuine civic engagement" (and he recognized that certain forms of "invigoration had costs beyond their benefits"), "we're not going to do what we all need to do for the University," on the issues Pharr raised and beyond. He hoped the task forces on women faculty and women in the sciences would be models of both substance and process, drawing on the energy of many people as they set the course for the University.


Dean Kirby thought the meeting had been important and valuable. He was committed to making clear the faculty's purposes and interests in governance within the University. If procedures were too constraining or inappropriate, the faculty could change them; they had been established in a prior period of unrest, in the early 1970s.

            Kirby would proceed to set up mechanisms and forums for conversation outside the formal faculty meetings, and would in fact do so in discussion with the Faculty Council tomorrow.

The meeting was adjourned.

You might also like

Historic Humor

University Archives to preserve Harvard Lampoon materials

Academia’s Absence from Homelessness

“The lack of dedicated research funding in this area is a major, major problem.”

The Enterprise Research Campus, Part Two

Tishman Speyer signals readiness to pursue approval for second phase of commercial development.  

Most popular

Harvard Portrait: Martin Puchner

The English professor has already written three books and edited the 6,000-page third edition of the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

Claudine Gay in First Post-Presidency Appearance

At Morning Prayers, speaks of resilience and the unknown

Poise, in Spite of Everything

Nina Skov Jensen ’25, portraitist for collectors and the princess of Denmark. 

More to explore

Exploring Political Tribalism and American Politics

Mina Cikara explores how political tribalism feeds the American bipartisan divide.

Private Equity in Medicine and the Quality of Care

Hundreds of U.S. hospitals are owned by private equity firms—does monetizing medicine affect the quality of care?

Construction on Commercial Enterprise Research Campus in Allston

Construction on Harvard’s commercial enterprise research campus and new theater in Allston