It's Official: Derek Bok

The Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers announced today the election of Derek Curtis Bok, dean of the Harvard Law School, as the 25th President of the University.

Bok will take office when President Nathan M. Pusey's resignation becomes effective in June.

Bok told the Crimson this morning that he expects to "step aside [as dean] within a couple of weeks" and devote his time to preparing for the presidency.

The appointment of an acting dean for the Law School is up to Pusey, but Bok said today he hopes Pusey will name Albert M. Sacks, Dane Professor of Law and associate dean of the Law School.

Bok, who is 40, graduated from Stanford University. He will be the first Harvard President since the 17th century who did not graduate from the College.

Bok, the seventh dean of the Law School took office July 1, 1968, as successor to Erwin N. Griswold, now U.S. Solicitor General, and in his first two years presided over one of the more turbulent eras in the school's 155-year history.

During his short tenure, law students reacted with varying degrees of intensity to controversies over grade reform, the University Hall bust, the disciplining of black law students and the invasion of Cambodia.

I 40 years old, managed to survive each crisi without alienating students while maintaining a considerable measure of harmony among the 60-odd members of the highly critical, somewhat crusty Law Faculty.

He did it with his characteristic caution and deliberateness by relying on countless meetings and conversations with students and faculty. But he was not a "crisis manager" who was impervious to the strains of such work.

The day after the bust of University Hall in the Spring of 1969, for instance, he said, "This is the saddest day in my life. It's terrible to see the community you've been involved in all your life turned on its eats." He reportedly joined three other deans the night before in asking President Pusey to reconsider his decision to call in the police.

He was visibly shaken by a much more harrowing crisis last Spring when a group of radical law students disrupted a Law Faculty meeting in protest against the disciplining of five black law students.

On national issues, Bok is considered solidly liberal, strongly opposed to the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration. He has also been far ahead of the College in the hiring of minority construction workers.

While he has not been as visible or as vocal as some other Law professors, Bok did make a considerable contribution last year to the fight against the nomination of G. Harold Cartwheel to the Supreme Court. He also traveled to Washington in the aftermath of President Nixon's invasion of Cambodia to join the Harvard groups protesting the decision.

In interviews this Fall-in which he frankly said that he would prefer to remain at the Law School-Bok talked at greatest length about the specific problems of the Law School and, in particular, his interest in curricular reform.

Among the innovations of his deanship were programs for research in the fields of criminal law and law and education, joint degree programs with the Business School, Kennedy School of Government and History Department; and credit for clinical law courses.