Summers Chief Of Staff To Leave

Jason M. Solomon is second Summers aide to announce departure in recent weeks

University President Lawrence H. Summers’ chief of staff, Jason M. Solomon ’93-’95, said yesterday that he will step down in May, marking the second departure this year from Summers’ inner circle of advisors.

Solomon, whose has brought a blend of Washington and Cambridge to Mass. Hall, said he had accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Georgia School of Law. His departure will follow that of Lucie McNeil, Summers’ press secretary, who is slated to leave in the next several weeks.

Their exits will reshape Summers’ senior staff at a crucial moment in his administration. After this week’s vote of no confidence from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Summers and his staff face a difficult battle to reaffirm his stature at the University and redefine his public image.

Solomon, who was appointed in 2003, said yesterday that he had always planned to serve as chief of staff for just two years, while his wife completed her degree at the Harvard Business School.

Like his boss, Solomon’s ties to Harvard are intertwined with the nation’s capital.

He served in the communications office for the Clinton White House and later as a staff member for Summers’ predecessor as secretary of the Treasury, Robert E. Rubin ’60, who now sits on the University’s top governing board.

Alan J. Stone, vice president for government, community, and public affairs, who worked as a Clinton speechwriter during Solomon’s time in Washington, said in an interview that their political skills were “somewhat transferable” to serving the president of Harvard.

“The atmosphere is different,” Stone said, “but the setting—in terms of workload, close comradeship, and pursuing common goals—are pretty similar.”

Summers has faced what is unquestionably the most challenging period of his tenure in the first three months of 2005, and some have questioned his staff amid the furor.

Lee Professor of Economics Claudia Goldin, one of Summers’ staunchest supporters, said in an interview in late February that the president should consider appointing older, more seasoned advisors to “remind him how to be presidential.”

Asked about that comment last month, Summers said, “I accept responsibility completely for the mistakes that I have made.”

In a statement relayed by an assistant last night, Summers said, “Jason has been indispensable to me these last two years. I’m very grateful for his energetic efforts on behalf of the President’s Office and his deep devotion to Harvard.”

University Provost Steven E. Hyman also praised Solomon for his work in Mass. Hall.

“His humor and good sense are going to be much missed in this building,” Hyman wrote in an e-mail. “But I couldn’t be happier for him; this professorship is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

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