Harvard Portrait: Meg Rithmire

Meg Rithmire

Assistant professor of business administration Meg Rithmire, Ph.D. ’11, spent the morning of October 5 shepherding Chinese scholars around campus. That afternoon, she got married. “I’ve never envisioned having a wedding,” she says of her civil ceremony. “I can’t imagine caring about wearing a white dress.” Dinner at a Chinese restaurant with her new husband, John David Hampton ’00, and their families, followed. “My life is about research and teaching that encourages people here to think about China in a dynamic way,” she says. “It’s still a foreign place. I don’t want people to be afraid of China.” In high school, she read Ha Jin’s Waiting, a bleak book about a man seeking a divorce amid the Cultural Revolution. The Atlanta teenager was captured by “the couple’s inefficacy and the impact a culture has on individuals.” She went on to earn dual degrees in Chinese and international studies at Emory University, along with a master’s and a doctorate in political science. Now at the Business School, she is writing a book on the commodification of land in China and helps teach a spring favorite: “Business, Government, and the International Economy,” crafting the section on the “success” of the planned city of Chongquin. “Is it real growth? Debt-financed? Or a propaganda bid on behalf of political leaders?” she asks. The school wants more intrepid thinkers—and Asian experts.“You can’t be a wallflower here,” she says. “I have M.B.A.s who are basically my age [30]. They think I’m a big China nerd.” Happily, she says, the HBS culture “is not as stodgy as people think.” Professors must teach in full suits. But on a Friday, Rithmire sports grasshopper-green silk pants and an Egyptian-style gold necklace. “I do own pearls,” she admits. “But it’s just not me.”

You might also like

Threats Foreign and Domestic

Joseph Nye discusses geopolitics and Harvard’s challenges.

Harvard’s New Football Coach: A Real Tiger

The magazine’s football correspondent advises fans to deal with it.

The Interim President’s Agenda

Alan Garber on campus speech, academics, and his other Harvard priorities

Most popular

Open Book: The Photographer’s Art

Robin Kelsey probes the place of photography within art.

An Ipswich Idyll

Restorations revive the grand spirit of a North Shore estate.

Harvard Corporation to Drop Law School Shield Linked to Slavery

The announcement follows a Law School committee’s recommendation to abandon the shield. 

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults