When Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine turns over the keys to his Mass. Hall office on June 30, he will be heading to familiar territory.
Ten years after resigning as executive vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to become the 26th President of Harvard University, Rudenstine will return to the Foundation to lead an advisory group guiding the development of ArtSTOR, an independent not-for-profit organization sponsored by the Foundation.
ArtSTOR, which is currently applying for status as an independent public charity, will develop, store and distribute electronically digital images and related scholarly materials for the study of art, architecture and other fields in the humanities.
Rudenstine will chair the ArtSTOR board when it is formally established.
Though he is a scholar of Renaissance literature, art and architecture are longstanding interests for Rudenstine.
"I have a strong interest in visual arts and art history," he said. "It's a very important part of my life."
Rudenstine said he is looking forward to the "intellectually stimulating" opportunities that will be provided by his new job, which will connect art and higher education.
"It combines a lot of things I care about-higher education, teaching and scholarship," he said. "It's a powerfully interconnected set of interests and potentialities."
Although Rudenstine generally avoids using technology-he doesn't have a computer in his office and doesn't use e-mail-he said that he is excited by the "special opportunities presented by digital technologies."
"I think we are clearly at a moment where digitizing all kinds of material that can be useful to teachers, students and scholars is coming very much into its own," Rudenstine said.
Mellon Foundation President William G. Bowen, who worked with Rudenstine for more than 20 years at Princeton and the Mellon Foundation, said in a release that Rudenstine will bring "insightful and effective" leadership skills to the job.
"I believe that his knowledge of the humanities and of art history, his exceptional organizational skill, and his familiarity with leading scholars in the field qualify him superbly to guide the development of this scholarly resource that has the potential to enhance and even alter the study of art," he said.
James L. Shulman, who will be the executive director of ArtSTOR, described Rudenstine as "the perfect person to lead this enterprise," citing his extensive knowledge of complicated institutions and higher education. But, above all, Shulman praised Rudenstine's dedication to academic exploration.
"Underneath all that is someone with an incredible appreciation for scholarship and the humanities," he said.
Though Rudenstine and his wife Angelica purchased a $840,000 house in Princeton, N.J. last August, Rudenstine said while he chairs the ArtSTOR organization, the Princeton house will be maintained as a weekend residence and "a place where we can keep our books and our children can visit."
During the week, Rudenstine will live in an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side with his wife, who also works for the Mellon foundation.
Though Rudenstine's time at Harvard is drawing to a close, he remains focused on his current responsibilities.
"I'm savoring and enjoying tremendously my last days at Harvard," he said. "But I'm looking forward to the new enterprise."
- Staff writer Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.