After a three-month medical leave, President Neil L. Rudenstine returns to his office today to begin what he terms "round two" of his tenure.
But will round two really be different from round one?
The president hopes the administrative burdens that pushed him to exhaustion over the last three years will be relieved, but his optimism may be unwarranted.
While some of the stresses of round one--getting to know the University, creating the academic plan and setting up the capital campaign--have passed, many more still remain.
According to Rudenstine's own calculations, he must raise one million dollars a day, everyday, for the next four years if the capital campaign is to succeed.
On top of that, problems such as the recent uproar over pension cuts and changes in health insurance for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will probably recur as the president is forced to trim budgets and allocate what he terms increasingly scarce resources.
Just as intimidating is the task Rudenstine faces in Washington and on the national scene. The issues of federal research funding and money for student aid are becoming increasingly visible as the new Congress threatens to cut programs.
Rudenstine, who has not spoken on national educational reforms in the past, says he plans to focus more on these issues through lobbying, writing and speeches. For example, he says his upcoming annual address will focus on those national issues.
Though Provost Albert Carnesale will now begin to lobby in Washington as well, it is not clear how Rudenstine can take on the daunting effort of becoming a national spokesperson on education and still decrease his total work load.
Despite the backlog that awaits him, Rudenstine claims to be "revved up" and recuperated.
His schedule will be more closely managed, he says. There will be more time for "writing, thinking and reflection." He will send fewer of his trademark hand-written notes; he has even purchased a dictaphone.
But it remains to be seen if he can reallybreak himself of his time-consuming administrativehabits.
Rudenstine promises to leave more time forhimself and for vacations. Such promises, comingon the heels of a medical leave, will be muchharder to keep once his agenda starts filling up.
The president's job is by definition a hecticone, and, based on his reputation, keepingRudenstine sheltered from day-to-day issues willbe a difficult task for his advisors.
The crux of the attempt to ease Rudenstine'sburden has so far been the delegation of moreauthority to Carnesale. The provost now has newduties including international affairs, centraladministration budgeting and informationtechnology on his already busy schedule.
In fact, it remains unclear exactly how he willbe able to deal with all the issues now under hispurview. Carnesale, after all, is still Dean ofthe Kennedy School of Government in addition toall of his duties as provost.
In Rudenstine's favor, he does have "his ownteam" in place for the first time since hisarrival. The two vice presidential searches, forFinance and Government and Community and PublicAffairs have been concluded; Carnesale is firmlyestablished in his post. Last spring's chaos inMass Hall, which one official compared to Francearound the time of the revolution, seems to havesettled.
This fresh start, at the very least, shouldgive Rudenstine the option to slow down.
Whether or not he actually does will be decidedin the coming months, and determined by hisability to manage his schedule, delegate authorityand raise money--while remaining rested enough torun the University effectively.
If he does not measure up to that challenge, itis likely Rudenstine's exhaustion will return, andwith it could come speculations of a possible endto his tenure