Waiting for the White Smoke: A Peek at Harvard's Tenure Searches

An Overview

Tenure searches at Harvard are said to be a serious, stately matter, with built-in checks and balances and procedures that can take years. The process has also been compared to giving birth, and if the analogy holds, one can understand why departments don't like to be seen in labor.

Moreover, it seems, academics don't like to hurt each others' feelings. To publicize the names of those being considered for a Harvard position, the argument goes would embarrass and insult those who don't get the nod in the end.

Of course, more professors acknowledge that word gets out anyway, that most historians around the country, to pick a random field, know which of their number Harvard is looking at.

But the tendency toward privacy--some would call it --prevails, to such an extent that professors are often wary to discuss even whether a vacancy exists, on what stage a search is at. This is the policy, at least, of Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence.

This listing is an attempt to bring the process out in the open a little, and to put in perspective the individual tenure stories that run in Harvard publications.

By Department


No tenure searches underway. But Chairman Werner Sailors met with Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence in early November, and a joint-tenure slot with Religion or Music might be in the works.

"Four joint appointments on a tenured level is what I see as the shape of the department," Sailors said in October. With Glenn C. Loury having moved to the Kennedy School, the department currently has three such appointments.


At least one search is being conducted, according to Department Administrator Michael A. McGrath. He refused to give details.


Cellular and Molecular Biology has recommended a candidate for tenure, but President Bok has yet to convene an ad hoe committee to review the recommendation, said Department Administrator Diane Baldwin.

Organismic and Evolutionary Biology: "We're at a standstill," Adminstrator Assistant Mary C. Reynolds said mysteriously.


Unknown. Celtic has traditionally had two tenured members, but both of them retired this year. New Chairman Sean O. Coileain may want some senior level company.


There are an unspecified number of openings but no final choices, according to Director of the Chemical Laboratories Donald J. Ciappenelli.


Three searches, according to Chairman Albert Henrichs: one in Greek Comedy, to replace the late Cedric Wideman, who died in 1979; one in Ancient History; and one in Philology, for which a choice will be made by the spring of 1985.


"We've been trying to make these appointments for three years," Chairman Walter J. Kaiser '54 said of the two slots open in Comp I it.

Twice, Harvard has made an often, only to be rebuked, he added; and last spring President Bok denied the department's nomination of former Associate Professor Richard Sieburth.


"There's at least one search," said Paul C. Martin '52, dean of the Division of Applied Science.


Harold Bohtho of Monash University in Australia has been offered a tenured position in pre modern Japanese history, said Department Chairman Edwin A. Cranston.

Bolitho would replace Donald H. Shively, the professor of Japanese History and literature who resigned last year to go to Berkeley.

In the next three or four years, Cranston added, the department will undertake a tenure search to replace Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History Joseph J. Fletcher Jr. '57, who died this summer.


The department has two to four openings according to Chairman Jerry Green o be picked from among the following fields:

Industrial Relations the department has approved lecturer James L. Medoff for a joint appointment, but the Business School did not pick up its end of the stick.

Gutman Chair Latin American Studies-they've narrowed the field to two candidates.

Socialist Economics a search committee is being formed to replace Baker Professor of Economics Abram Bergson who retired this year.

Macroeconomics a search committee is being drawn up.

Finance--just beginning to look for replacement for Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration John V. Lintner Jr., who died in 1983.

Econometrics--theoretical specialist being sought.

Industrial Organization--need to replace Spence and Professor of Economics David M. Kreps who left for Stanford last year.


One tenure search will be announced in a couple of weeks, according to Chairman Larry D. Benson.

University Hall wrote in its affirmative action report last month that a woman is joining the department next year, but Benson denied knowledge of this.


Two searches. The department has had a short list for the position in Baroque Renaissance Art since March, according to former and present Chairman James S. Ackerman and Neil Levine.

A position in the Middle Ages is being delayed for some undisclosed reason.


One search, the results of which could be announced sometime soon, according to professors in the department.


It's back to the drawing board after the turn-down this month from Cornell Scholar Sander Gilman.


Four searches, Chairman Robert D. Putnam reported in September that searches are ongoing in American Politics, Japanese Politics, International Relations.

A search in Political Theory is not active, Putnam added.


There are no active tenure search, said Chairman John Womack Jr. '59, but the department has a long-terlin interest in a Middle East and an Africa spot.


The German wunderkind who astounded the math world last year turned down Harvard's offer his fall but the slot may still be open.


No searches, according to Chairman Christoph Wolff


A search may be undertaken to fill the recently endowed Dorot Foundation Chair in the Archaeology of Israel, Chairman Wolfhart P. Heinrichs said last month.


A search for a History of Philosophy professor is just starting, Chairman Warren D. Goldfarb stated.


Two searches, just starting this year in Psychobiology and Psychopathology Personality, according to Chairman Sheldon H. White.


Potential candidates are still being reviewed for a Spanish Lit position, said Chairman Jules Brody.


In connection with East Asian Language and Civilization, the department is going to search for a senior-level replacement for the late Professor Fletcher in three or four years.


One search, in Russian poetry, which has passed the short list stage and should be wrapped up by early next year, Chairman George G. Grabowiez said yesterday.


Three searches. One in quantitative style sociology, a position which six of seven people offered have refused in the last few years. One in institutional analysis, for which Associate Professor of Sociology Paul Starr is being considered. One wildcard spot for former Associate Professor Sociology Theda R. Skocpol, whose oatroversial tenure denial case is being reviewed for the second time by an ad hoc committee.


The position that a magician statistician turned down last spring is presumable still vacant.


Chairman Louis J. Bakanowsky said this fall that he would like to switch the Film Studies position from a term appointment to a tenured position.


After a turn-down from Rutgers English professor Elaine Showalter last spring, the Women's Studies Committee is now accepting nominations from departments interested in the joint slot.

Nominations are due February I, said Acting Chair Barbara Johnson, in order to get someone on campus next fall.