More Profs To Leave Harvard For Obama

Economics professor Jeremy C. Stein and Kennedy School professor Jeffrey B. Liebman will soon vacate their posts at Harvard to take positions with the administration of President Barack Obama, adding their names to a growing list of Harvard intellectuals headed for the nation’s capital.

News of Stein’s decision to go “off to Washington” was included in an e-mail sent to economics graduate students on Tuesday.

Owen A. Lamont, a visiting lecturer in the economics department, will be covering the three spring-term economics courses that Stein will be leaving behind, according to the e-mail, which was obtained by The Crimson yesterday.

Lamont, who has long been friendly with Stein, said he learned of the professor’s impending departure two weeks ago and supported his plan to move into government.

“He is one of the world’s leading experts on the financial system,” Lamont said. “I can’t think of a better person to be in Washington right now—other than [Lawrence H.] Summers.”

Summers, the former University President, was named director of the National Economic Council in November.

Stein, whose research has focused on subjects such as behavioral finance and stock market efficiency, will be joining Summers, Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein ’75, and a handful of other Harvard professors in the Obama administration.

Liebman will also be in Washington—helping to oversee the policies and management of federal agencies as the new executive associate director of the president’s Office of Management and Budget.

In the late 1990s, Liebman served as special assistant to the president for economic policy and coordinated the Clinton administration’s social security reform technical working group.

Neither Liebman nor Stein could be reached for comment late last night.

Stein has been at Harvard since 2000, serving also as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, and, in 2008, as the president of the American Finance Association. Prior to Harvard, he spent ten years on the finance faculty of MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Lamont, who did his doctoral studies under Stein at MIT and previously taught finance at the Yale School of Management, said he was prepared to take on Stein’s duties and that the University would be able to weather his older colleague’s absence.

“Harvard is a top university, there’s always going to be times when the country needs a Harvard professor,” he said. “Fortunately Harvard is flexible enough to deal with that.”

—Staff writer Noah S. Rayman can be reached at nrayman@fas.harvard.edu.