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Henry Rosovsky


Someone like Henry Rosovsky doesn't read a book like The University: An Owner's Manual--he writes one.

Rosovsky, a Corporation member since 1985, is currently serving as acting dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Economist and Japan scholar Rosovsky was dean of FAS from 1973 to 1984, and before that he was chair of the Economics Department (1969-1972). The first Jewish member of the Corporation, Rosovsky filled in as acting president for several months while Bok was on leave in 1987.

"Henry is practically Mr. Harvard Yard," says Yale historian John M. Blum '43, a former Corporation member. "He brings to the search a more intimate knowledge of Harvard than anyone."

Rosovsky, 63, is widely regarded as one of the nation's leading educators. Bok calls Rosovsky "one of the most experienced and successful leaders and students of higher education."

During the 1970s, Rosovsky masterminded the creation of Harvard's Core curriculum, designed to introduce students to different approaches to learning. Busy overseeing the implementation of the Core, he turned down the Yale presidency in 1977.

Immediately after President Derek C. Bok's resignation in June, speculation centered on Rosovsky as a possible successor, but over the summer he issued a statement saying he would not seek the post.

"Henry Rosovsky has been through [the search process] from the other side," says Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences John E. Dowling '57. "Certainly he has been through this backward and forward.

Born in Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland, in 1927, Rosovsky came to the United States in 1940. He received an A.B. (1949) and L.L.D. (1976) from William and Mary, and an A.M. (1953) and Ph.D. (1959) from Harvard.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Rosovsky taught economics and history from 1958 to 1965. He also chaired the Center on Japanese and Korean studies from 1962 to 1965, when he came to Harvard as a professor of economics.

Rosovsky's books include Discord in the Pacific: Challenges to the Japanese-American Alliance, Asia's New Giant: How the Japanese Economy Works and Japanese Economic Growth: Trend Acceleration in the Twentieth Century.

In his widely regarded book on university administration released this year, Rosovsky lists a number of tips for successful academic administration: "Learn the value of being vague," "cultivate the art of asking people for money; your career may depend on the results," "never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts" and "learn to think big--especially when dollars are the measure."

It has become part of Harvard lore that Rosovsky once told a group of undergraduate protestors, "You will be here for four years. I will be here for the rest of my life. Harvard will be here forever." Rosovsky has said that the quote is apocryphal.

Profiles compiled and written by Tara A. Nayak and Maggie S. Tucker.

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