Wedding Bells Ring Anew For Summers

Boldface names mingle with Botticelli, Giovanni at Fogg reception

University President Lawrence H. Summers and Professor of English and American Literature and Language Elisa New were married yesterday in a ceremony at Elmwood, the president’s residence.

Summers, 51, smiled broadly as he arrived with New, 47, at a reception in the Fogg Art Museum following the wedding. The president embraced his mother, Anita A. Summers, as members of both families greeted each other on the steps of the Fogg.

The museum, home to the University’s prized collections of early Renaissance and Impressionist artwork, was transformed for the evening into a modest reception hall in the main foyer that hosted an assortment of the couple’s friends, family, and colleagues.

The boldface names of Harvard’s administrative ranks were almost all in attendance, having trudged through the snow-sloshed streets of the Square to the five o’clock reception. Among them were Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby, whose relationship with Summers has soured in the past two years, and Theda Skocpol, who publicly criticized Summers before she was appointed dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in June.

Indeed, the president’s wedding bells generally drowned out University politics for the day, though some who attended the reception were quick to note which faculty members had and had not been invited.

The English and American Literature and Language Department was well represented last night, with appearances by James Engell, the department chair; Stephen J. Greenblatt, the Cogan University professor; and Louis Menand, the Bass professor of English.

On Summers’ academic side of the aisle were Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, the Lee and Allison professors of economics. The pair are on leave this academic year.

Most professors, however, were not invited to the reception of roughly 150 guests. The wedding at Elmwood was an even smaller affair, with no more than 40 of the couple’s relatives and closest friends.

Rabbi Norman Janis, a chaplain at the Harvard Hillel Foundation, presided over the ceremony. Summers and New are both Jewish.

The bride and groom were driven to the Fogg in the president’s trademark Lincoln Town Car, its “1636” vanity license plates evoking the founding of Harvard College. Their driver, after parking, also attended the reception.

Several people who were inside said the affair was elegant but understated—“a classier-than-usual dinner party,” said one attendee, who asked not to be named. The reception was closed to the media.

Massachusetts Hall, home to the president’s office and the central administration, turned out in droves for the event. Nearly all of Summers’ right-hand men and women attended, from Donella Rapier, the vice president for development, to Alan J. Stone, the vice president for government, community, and public affairs. Provost Steven E. Hyman was also present.

Deans from each of Harvard’s schools attended the reception.

Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law School, and David Ellwood, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, were among the first to arrive. Drew Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute, attended with her husband, Charles E. Rosenberg, professor of the history of science and the Monrad professor in the social sciences.

The wedding was the second for both Summers and New.

The bridegroom is the son of Anita A. and Robert Summers, former economics professors at the University of Pennsylvania.

The bride is the daughter of Joan New, a party planner, and Ronald New, a former physicist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The wedding was featured yesterday in The New York Times’ vaunted “Weddings & Celebrations” column.

—Staff writer Zachary M. Seward can be reached at seward@fas.harvard.edu.