Panel Considers 30 for Top Job

Overseers see names of presidential contenders–including some from Harvard

The committee charged with finding Harvard’s next president quietly released a list of about 30 leading contenders to a board of prominent alumni Sunday.

The list, presented to the Board of Overseers, includes leaders at the nation’s top universities, several Harvard administrators, and directors of nonprofit foundations, according to two sources close to the Harvard Corporation, the University’s top governing board.

The announcement marks a critical point in the University’s search for its 28th president, which is expected to conclude by March.

At least three Harvard leaders made the list—Radcliffe Institute Dean Drew Gilpin Faust, Provost Steven E. Hyman, and Law School Dean Elena Kagan.

Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow, Stanford Provost John W. Etchemendy, University of Cambridge head Alison F. Richard, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons, and Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman were among the prominent figures in higher education nominated for Harvard’s top post.

The list also mentions three leaders who made the final rounds of Harvard’s last presidential search, which resulted in Lawrence H. Summers’ selection in 2001—Lee C. Bollinger, now Columbia University’s president; former Harvard Provost Harvey V. Fineberg ’67, who now heads the Institute of Medicine; and Amy Gutmann ’71, currently president of the University of Pennsylvania.

The presidential search committee, which includes all six Corporation fellows and three overseers, unveiled the list to the 30-member Board of Overseers when the boards held a joint session Sunday afternoon in Loeb House.

The Crimson granted anonymity to the two sources who confirmed portions of the list because their relationships with members of the governing boards would be compromised if they were named. Overseers and Corporation fellows have declined to discuss the search on the record.

University spokesman John D. Longbrake said last night that the search committee would not comment on developments in the search.

Sunday’s announcement to the Board of Overseers mirrors the timing of the last search. Six years ago, on Dec. 10, 2000, the search committee read a list of between 30 and 40 candidates to the Overseers. The current search committee chairman, James R. Houghton ’58, is the only one of the nine members who served on the 2000-2001 panel.

Last time, the University named Summers Harvard’s next chief on March 11, 2001. The Crimson had broken the news of the search committee’s decision two days earlier.

But even candidates who did not make the latest list could be shuffled into the committee’s future rosters, an individual close to the Corporation said.

Although many likely contenders have publicly denied interest in the Harvard presidency, the committee is not taking candidates’ declared interests into account, sources close to the committee have said.

Kagan and Hyman declined comment through their spokesmen. The other candidates known to be on the latest list did not return requests for comment late last night.

The Crimson has learned the names of 11 of the roughly 30 individuals on the committee’s list. While the rest of the list remains undisclosed, several other candidates mentioned by alumni and academics include 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner and Howard Hughes Medical Institute President Thomas R. Cech, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, University of California President Robert C. Dynes, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, Cornell Provost Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, Amherst College President Anthony W. Marx, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace President Jessica Tuchman Mathews ’67, and Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

—Nicholas M. Ciarelli contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Daniel J. T. Schuker can be reached at dschuker@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez can be reached at jhernand@fas.harvard.edu.