Two key staff members at the Institute of Politics (IOP) said this week they are leaving their posts at the Kennedy School, where they are responsible for overseeing the IOP Fellows program and the Weekly speaker series.
The departures come one month after the announcement that former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Richard Thornburgh will take over as director of the IOP in June, but Institute officials said the staffing changes are not connected.
No successor has been named for Theresa A. Donovan, who today begins a one-year leave of absence from her position as head of the IOP Fellows program, said acting IOP Director Mary McTigue. Donovan, who has coordinated the Fellows' activities since 1979, said she does not know whether she will return to the K-School after her one-year hiatus.
The IOP also has not found a replacement for Sara Farnsworth, who is resigning next week after two years as an organizer of the IOP Forum speeches, McTigue said. The Institute is currently looking for their successors, she said.
Farnsworth and Donovan said their decisions to leave the IOP are unrelated to Thornburgh's appointment.
"I had put in my resignation long before the announcement," Farnsworth said. "[Thornburgh] has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on my decision."
"I was aware of [their intention to resign] when I accepted the position as director of the IOP," Thornburgh said. "And we're going to actively recruit appropriate successors."
Paul Bograd, associate director of the IOP, said there are no links between Thornburgh's arrival and the two departures but the changes may represent a watershed for the IOP.
"We've been operating without a director on sight for a while," Bograd said. But he added, "In sort of an informal way, It's a demarcation point."
Donovan, who has helped select the IOP Fellows in addition to being responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Fellows program, said she want to explore different career opportunities during her yearlong leave of absence. She said she will organize a San Francisco conference for the International Caucus of Women Political Leaders.
"It's time to take advantage of both the opportunities and a lot of the ideas that I have been exposed to at the IOP," Donovan said, adding that she would like to work in politics or public service.
"Terri has been the heart and soul of the Institute, and it's hard to imagine the Fellows program without her," said Hendrik Hertzberg '65, former IOP fellow and contributing editor to The New Republic. Donovan may be leaving because there is no prospect for advancement at the IOP, Hertzberg said.
During her seven years at the IOP, Donovan said the Fellows program has seen a sharp increase in the number of women and minority fellows. But she said most things about the IOP have remained the same and she does foresee any changes in the near future.
"The original concept of the Kennedy School was in terms of being a memorial to President Kennedy and the way he lived his life, and the Institute today reflects that mission," Donovan said.
Although Farnsworth said she has no concrete plans after she leaves the IOP next week, she is considering working on a political campaign.