After serving as a Fellow of Harvard College for 25 years, Charles P. Slichter '45 announced Wednesday that be will resign from the Harvard Corporation this June.
Slicter's resignation means no academics from outside Harvard will remain on the University's top governing board by the end of the academic year.
"Charles Slichter added the perspective of the academic and scientist to the Corporation," said Corporation member and former Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky. "He was a tremendous upholder of academic values. He fought hard if he ever thought the University was compromising its teaching or research."
The Corporation, the University's most powerful governing board, controls Harvard's basic operations, particularly management and policy concerns. It consists of five Fellows, the University Treasurer and the President.
The other members of the Corporation are President Neil L. Rudenstine, Treasurer D. Ronald Daniel, Robert G. Stone, Jr. '45, Judith Richards Hope, Richard A. Smith '46 and Rosovsky.
Slichter was noted for being the tight-lipped spokesperson for the Corporation when be served as chair of the presidential search committee which appointed Rudenstine in 1992.
A search committee has already been formed to select Slichter's replacement. It includes Daniel as chair, Rosovsky, Stone, Overseers Renee Landers and Thomas Murphy and Rudenstine serving as ex officio.
In a letter obtained by the Crimson and dated November 14, Rudenstine outlined for alumni the qualities the committee looks for in a Corporation member.
"The most important are intelligence, open-mindedness, perspicacity, a wide breadth of experience and knowledge, common sense and good judgment," Rudenstine wrote. "To these should be added a deep concern about higher education in general and Harvard's welfare and progress in particular."
He also added that it is customary for members of the Corporation to hold Harvard degrees.
According to Rosovsky, what made Slichter's original appointment so significant was that he was one of the first two academics appointed to the Corporation in a long time.
"It was a time of turmoil," Rosovsky said of the late 1960s, when Slichter was appointed. "The idea was to put people on the Corporation who knew how universities function from the inside."
Slichter's resignation leaves Rudenstine and Rosovsky as the only remaining members who work at the University. Three business executives and a lawyer make up the rest of the Corporation.
While refusing to say that the committee would specifically look for an academic, Rosovsky did say that he endorsed the idea of having academics on the Corporation.
"I think it's a good idea to have people who understand universities as professionals," he said. "The difficulty is that the Corporation is too small to set aside certain seats for certain kinds of people, but we will keep it in mind."
The loss of an academic from the Corporation may upset some faculty members, who have voiced concern recently that the University is becoming too much of a business-like corporation.
At a faculty meeting last month about the new benefits package for Harvard faculty and staff, many complained that they didn't have enough input in the decision making process.
"It seems as though we were being treated more as employees of a business than members of a community," McKay Professor of Computer Science Barbara J. Grosz said.
Nothing has yet been officially done to address the faculty members' complaints.
A High Sense of Integrity
University officials spoke glowingly about Slichter's tenure at Harvard.
"He is one of the most thoughtful and fair-minded people with whom I have had the privilege to work," Rudenstine said in a statement yesterday. "Harvard has benefited from his excellent judgment and wise council in innumerable ways."
President of the Board of Overseers, the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh echoed Rudenstine's sentiments.
"He was a marvelous guy with enormous dedication to whom Harvard owes a great debt of gratitude," Hesburgh said. "He brought a high sense of integrity and a great sense of the problems which face university."
Slichter, who is the Center for Advanced Study professor of physics and chemistry at the University of Illinois, received an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard, where he was the Morris Loeb Lecture in Physics in 1961.
He is currently the chair of the Corporation's Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, a position he has held for the last five years. In that capacity, he has guided University policy on the ethical responsibilities it possesses as an investor.
He had also been a member of the five person Committee on Appointments of the Governing Boards since its inception in 1982-83.
This article was reported with information from the Harvard Gazette.