Fundraising VP to Resign

Announcement suggests President-elect Faust may scrap Summers-era fundraising strategies

Harvard’s Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development, Donella M. Rapier, announced yesterday that she will resign at the end of the academic year and suggested that President-elect Drew G. Faust had asked her to step down.

“President Faust would like to hire her own Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development,” Rapier wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson last night, “and I completely respect that.”

The move suggests that Faust may be poised to scrap the development strategies of former President Lawrence H. Summers, who appointed Rapier, a former Harvard Business School (HBS) chief financial officer, in 2003.

Rapier was brought on to spearhead the University’s long-awaited capital campaign, originally scheduled to be launched in 2006 or 2007. But the campaign was delayed several times amid the tumult surrounding Summers’ comments about women in science and his persistent battles with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which left many alumni disaffected.

The campaign was eventually put off until Summers’ permanent successor took office, and it is now expected to begin in 2008.

“I had very much looked forward to running a campaign for Harvard as I did at HBS,” Rapier wrote in the e-mail. “That said...circumstances did not play out as I expected they would when Larry Summers first asked me to take on this position.”

The announcement came abruptly, and the University gave no word on who might replace Rapier or how the new vice president would be selected.

Rapier wrote that at the moment, she does not have a job waiting for her when she steps down. She said that she “will be looking for opportunities” and will “take some time to consider a range of options.”

Summers brought Rapier to Mass. Hall at the urging of then-HBS dean Kim Clark ’74, a close confidant of the former president. Rapier was one of several hires from the Business School intended to shake up the development office’s infrastructure as Summers prepared to launch his campaign.

Rapier clashed with some Mass. Hall administrators and staffers—including Vice President for Policy A. Clayton Spencer—who were critical of Rapier’s management style and frustrated by some aspects of her approach to fundraising, according to a source close to Mass. Hall.

But Spencer wrote in an e-mail last night that she and Rapier “have worked together very productively as colleagues on a number of projects.”

“I have a great deal of respect for Donella’s many talents, including management and fundraising,” Spencer wrote.

The Crimson granted anonymity to the source because the individual’s relationship with University officials would be compromised if the source were named.

Rapier expressed pride at what she called “substantial” fundraising successes over the past few years.

During Rapier’s tenure, Harvard raised more than $1.7 billion. In fiscal year 2006, the University brought in $596 million in gifts, the second-highest amount in Harvard’s history.

Rapier is the second Summers-appointed vice president to announce plans to resign this year. Alan J. Stone, the vice president for government, community, and public affairs, has announced he will step down on June 30 as well.

Faust must also appoint deans for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, the Graduate School of Design, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Faust announced last week that she had asked another Mass. Hall official, Provost Steven E. Hyman, to continue his term as the University’s chief academic officer.

Yuki A. Moore Laurenti ’79, who served as the president of the Harvard Alumni Association for the 2005-2006 academic year, said yesterday that Rapier had been “delightful to work with.”

“She was extremely supportive of alumni,” Moore said, citing Rapier’s active involvement in alumni events, even those held overseas.

Rapier declined to be interviewed via telephone.

—Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting to this story.
—Staff writer Laurence H. M. Holland can be reached at lholland@fas.harvard.edu.