During a dinner to inaugurate the opening of Harvard's new Center for Latin American Studies last night, President Neil L. Rudenstine's wife Angelica confirmed University reports that her husband is fatigued and resting, according to one guest who attended.
"Neil works hard, perhaps too hard, because Harvard matters," the guest quoted Angelica Zander Rudenstine as saying. "He is really resting and really feels better. Neil is maintaining frequent contact with [Acting President and Provost] Al Carnesale and others at Harvard."
She reportedly did not say whether he is at his Elmwood Ave. mansion, as the University news office has maintained.
Harvard announced Monday that President Rudenstine is taking a medical leave and undergoing tests on an outpatient basis for severe "fatigue and exhaustion of an unknown origin."
Rudenstine has sent letters to officials around the University about his absence, a source close to the administration said last night.
"I have been told in the strongest possible terms, by my doctors, that I must take some time out in order to undergo a series of tests, and to regain strength from my present state of exhaustion," says one such letter, which is dated November 27, the day before the University's announcement of Rudenstine's illness.
"I do want to reassure you, however, that I shall do all that I can to make this interval as brief as I am allowed," the letter continues.
Both on campus and off, speculation has been rampant as to Rudenstine's condition.
Rudenstine's mother Mae told the Boston Globe this week that the president was suffering from nothing more serious than exhaustion.
An article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal blamed Rudenstine's fatigue on his tremendous workload as an Ivy League president.
But emerging evidence seems to pinpoint the time of the president's decision to take a leave sometime between late Monday night and Wednesday evening of Thanksgiving week.
According to a source close to the administration, the president's last public appearance was at a football dinner at the Harvard Club of Boston that Monday, November 21.
Robert L. Jungerhans '97, a center on Harvard's varsity football team, said yesterday that he spoke to Rudenstine at that event.
"I talked to him. He seemed all right," Jungerhans said. "He talked at the dinner."
The player said the president seemed healthy and in good spirits.
"He talked about how he played football when he was younger," Jungerhans said.
But the source close to the administration said the president returned home after 11 p.m. that night and was too tired to come to work the next day.
The president called Carnesale Wednesday evening and informed the provost he would be taking a medical leave of absence on his doctors' orders, according to Carnesale.
At last night's event in the Fogg Art Museum, Angelica Rudenstine expressed her family's appreciation for the concern extended to the president since the announcement of Rudenstine's medical leave of absence on Monday.
"There has been a tremendous outpouring of concern and understanding from many people that has touched us both," the guest quoted Angelica Rudenstine as saying.
Angelica Rudenstine interjected her personal remarks as she read a prepared letter from the president to approximately 150 invited guests and officials, the source said.
"I want to send a brief word of greeting to all of you who are gathered together on this important occasion," the president's letter says. "I greatly regret that I am unable to be with you. I have looked forward to this conference for many months, and I am fully with you in spirit."
The president's letter also announced that Harvard's new Center for Latin American Studies will be named after David Rockefeller '63, who has given a multi-million dollar donation to the center