University Leaders to Schmooze Alums in London
The “Harvard in Europe” conference, sponsored by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), is billed as part of HAA’s “global series.” And while top officials insist the conference has no fundraising purpose, the who’s-who of distinguished professors and administrators headlining the event and the $250 registration fee indicate that the weekend is well-poised to harness the ample wallets of the trans-Atlantic crowd.
About 400 alumni are already registered to attend the conference, which runs from tomorrow night through Saturday. Summers said he will speak to attendees about current priorities on campus, including the College’s curricular review, the development of Harvard’s new campus in Allston and the expansion of University science initiatives and facilities. He added that he will also meet with a few European alumni individually.
But notwithstanding his cultivation of alumni and the presence of numerous senior development officials at the conference—including Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Donella Rapier and Associate Vice President for University Relations John P. Reardon Jr.—Summers insisted that this event is about forging alumni community in Europe and reconnecting international alumni to the University.
“Fundraising is separate from alumni events,” he said yesterday.
And Development Office spokesperson Andrew K. Tiedemann said the weekend does not aim to raise money for the University, but instead fits in with Summers’ broader interest in globalization and increasing Harvard’s international presence.
Summers has suggested the idea of increasing the number of international students at the University and has pushed hard to increase the number of undergraduates who study abroad.
He also said yesterday that he expected more international alumni events in the future, and Tiedemann even suggested a worldwide event might be on the horizon.
“There is no development angle to this,” Tiedemann said. “Looking at our alumni programming, the mirror of [Summers’ global focus for students] is that we have a significant number of alumni who live oversees—we should be engaging them and reconnecting them to the University.”
But newly-recruited Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker, who will be featured prominently at the conference, said the event will serve to tap the underutilized financial resources of European alumni.
“It would be naive to think that it was not ultimately about fundraising,” he said. “I think that the idea is that the alumni of Harvard in Europe feel less a greater part of the Harvard alumni community.”
While in London, Summers will also give a speech at the London School of Economics tomorrow afternoon addressing “Europe and America in the 21st Century” to a sellout crowd of 800 people. At the conference, he will speak briefly both Friday night and Saturday morning and close the event by holding a question-and-answer session with alumni.
Summers will be joined by Provost Steven E. Hyman, Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby and Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71. About 15 professors will also speak at the event.
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