Lenny Solomon, singer, songwriter, and lab administrator, will retire this coming December after 38 years as the research program manager for Harvard’s Anderson Research Group.
Officially, Solomon is responsible for the administrative aspects of the research group, which performs experiments dealing with climate change, ozone depletion, and other things “important to the planet.”
But Solomon, who accepted a retirement incentive package offered by the University, plays an even more crucial role in the lab: cheerleader.
“One of the most important things is to keep the staff happy so they’ll stay,” he said. “I’m there to always be an advocate for them.”
Norton T. Allen ’83, a software engineer whom Solomon convinced to join the Anderson Group 26 years ago, said it is Solomon’s friendship that will be missed most in his absence.
“He doesn’t take anything very seriously,” said Allen. “He seems to know everybody, but he makes a point to find out who’s doing something interesting.”
After realizing that people at Harvard might be too focused on their own work to interact with people in other disciplines, Solomon founded the ABCD Committee, an association of working groups compromising Harvard affiliates interested in computers and technology.
“The nature of Harvard is very fragmented,” Allen said. “There’s no organization that could say we represent everybody across the board.”
Through the ABCD Committee network, Solomon met Dennis J. Gurgul, a systems specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, who became the drummer for a band Solomon was trying to form at the time.
Solomon, Gurgul, and two others now comprise the acoustic folk group known as the Lenny Solomon Band. The band has self-produced three CDs and frequently plays gigs in the Boston area.
Five years ago, Solomon, who was frustrated with former President George W. Bush’s proposal to go to Mars, wrote a song entitled “Let’s Go to Mars.” He recorded it in the basement of the lab and entered it in NeilYoung.com’s “Living With War” song contest. A country parody written from Bush’s perspective, the song was the top-played on the Web site for about a month.
After leaving his position, Solomon plans to continue his music and spend more time with his two Persian cats, two toy poodles, wooden fish, and talking bass.
While both the lab and the committee have not yet decided how to fill his positions, Solomon said he strongly believed all would be well in the end.
“It’s important to have a well-balanced life,” he said of leaving his colleagues. “I have a feeling we’ll still be connected.”