It was not a good week for the Economics Department.
First came word on Tuesday that Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of Economics and winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize for Economics, was "very interested" in a professorship recently offered to him by Stanford University.
Should he turn down that postion Arrow might decide to leave Harvard for Yale where he would join another leader in the field of mathematical economics, Herbert E. Scarf. According to one source, the combination of these old friends would give Yale the edge in that area.
If the very possible departure of the much-respected Arrow wasn't serious enough, the department got word the next day that John Kenneth Galbraith, Warburg Professor of Economics, anticipates taking a couple of years off to create and produce a major new television series for the British Broadcasting Company.
But the possibility of Arrow's permanent exit is far more alarming than another sabbatical for Galbraith, Harvard's version of Odysseus. Both Dean Rosovsky and James S. Duesenberry, chairman of the department, admitted that the loss of Arrow would be a serious setback for the department.
Although Arrow is one of three Harvard economics professors to win the economics award in its five-year history, his leaving would find the department with only one laureate Wassail Leonine. Simon S. Kuznets, Baker Professor of Economics emeritus, received the award in 1971.
Arrow will decide in four weeks whether to leave after the 1974-75 academic year. Meanwhile the department and the dean will, as Rosovsky said, "hope like hell it doesn't happen.