President Neil L. Rudenstine will return from his medical leave of absence early in the second semester, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Harvard Corporation, one of Harvard's two governing boards.
Rudenstine, who announced his decision to take a leave because of "severe fatigue and exhaustion" last month, has been "resting at home and sleeping well," according to a statement issued by Dr. Daniel C. Tosteson '46, dean of the Medical School and Rudenstine's medical spokesperson.
Tosteson's statement said doctors had ruled out cancer or heart disease as possible causes of the president's exhaustion.
"Diagnostic tests have provided no evidence for bacterial, viral, cardiovascular disease or cancer," Tosteson said. "His doctors believe that his condition was related to overwork and insufficient sleep."
Sympathizers and critics have said Rudenstine's workaholic approach to managing the University led to his exhaustion.
In a second statement released by the University Press Office, Charles P. Slichter, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, said Rudenstine has made "rapid progress" on his recovery.
"[Rudenstine] has been in regular touch with both acting President Albert Carnesale and myself," Slichter said. "We expect that he will begin to resume some of his activities early in the second semester, with a return to full-time duties by the end of February."
Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs James H. Rowe '73 said yesterday he could not comment on which duties the president would assume upon his return.
"Those are issues that are going to be decided by the president with the acting president, and it would be at best premature to comment on that," Rowe said. "Those are issues that he will be reviewing with acting president Carnesale and others in that time period."
Rowe also declined to explain the timing of the president's return, saying only that the University's announcement coincided with the last day of classes for the fall semester.
"This is very good news, and we wanted to share it with the Harvard community, and tomorrow's the last full day of classes," Rowes said.
The president, who has spent the past month resting in his 33 Elmwood Avenue mansion, plans to celebrate Christmas with his family and to vacation in January, Rowe said.
In a separate interview, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles said he saw Rudenstine yesterday at the president's home.
"I have seen the president, he is improving and he is doing very well," Knowles said.
Rudenstine made his first appearance on campus since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at a Massachusetts Hall staff holiday party December 10.
Rudenstine's holiday cheer was given a special boost yesterday when members of the University Choir led by Plummer Professor of Christian Morals the Rev. Peter J. Gomes.
"I am told that he went to the door yesterday, and that there was a choral group from Memorial Church," Rowe said. "He sang chorales with the group for about five or 10 minutes."
Rowe said Rudenstine had been recovering from his fatigue and exhaustion by catching up on some long-awaited reading.
"I saw president Rudenstine today, and he's looking very well," Rowe said. "He told me that he'd made a sizable dent in his much postponed reading pile."
The president has been reading Arthur Schlesinger's Age of Jackson and a biography of James Madison, according to Rowe.
"He's helping a friend with a manuscript," Rowe said. "He's doing quite well and planning a family holiday of extended relatives.