Summers Learns the Ropes on First Day

For new University President Lawrence H. Summers, his first day on the job was similar to just about any University employee on their first day.

After arriving at the office promptly at 9 a.m., Summers checked his email on the new Dell computer installed over the weekend in his office—the first computer to be used in the president’s office, since former President Neil L. Rudenstine shunned computers.

Summers met with an official from the University benefits office to learn about his new options for health care and retirement plans. He set up photos on the side-table, and talked with staff about getting posters for the walls. The new president even went around the building to introduce himself.

There were, however, indications that Summers was not just any employee. The photos he set up were signed by former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore ’69, and a framed $1 bill with Summers’ signature on it from his days as treasury secretary graced a side-table. And, throughout the day, well-wishers dropped off cards and presents to herald his return to Cambridge.

On the president’s desk, Rudenstine left Summers three colored juggling balls—“because I’m going to be juggling many balls at once in this job,” Summers quipped—and the traditional letter welcoming him to his new post.

Summers’ said his Washington friends coordinated with his Harvard friends to decorate the main office before Summers began work. He was pleasantly surprised to arrive and find photos of his children lining the bookcases.

He attended meetings in the morning, talked with various deans and members of the Corporation by telephone and lunched at the Faculty Club, catching up, he said, “with old friends and new friends.”

“Everyone’s your new friend now,” one University staffer chimed.

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