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President Search List Narrowed to About 20

Overseers Discuss Information Technology

By Maggie S. Tucker

The presidential search committee has narrowed the list of candidates for Harvard's top job to a field of around 20, a University official said yesterday.

Despite expectations that the committee would present a short list of candidates to the Board of Overseers at its meeting yesterday, the search remains in the intermediate stages, the official said.

The list presented to the Board yesterday includes several women and minorities, the official said.

"The people on there are all serious candidates. There were some people [the search committee] really thought were qualified to be president of the University," said the source.

The remaining candidates, winnowed down from an initial pool of more than 200, were described as having outstanding academic credentials and extensive administrative experience. Many, but not all, have taught or studied at Harvard.

Overseers interviewed yesterday said they had made an agreement not to disclose details of the search or the names of those under consideration. Several said they wanted to preserve the search committee's request for secrecy since the Board has been granted an unprecedented amount of input into the search process.

The committee, composed of six Corporation members and three overseers, will further narrow the list over the upcoming months, and is expected to announce the appointment in February or March.


The overseers spent much of yesterday's meeting discussing the advent of state-of-the-art information technology at Harvard.

Professors who are currently implementing interactive computer teaching gave demonstrations of their programs and spoke about the importance of making better use of such methods.

In the development of technology for teaching, Harvard lags behind several other leading schools, including Carnegie-Mellon University and Dartmouth College, overseers said.

Paying the Price

"We pay a price for our rich and ancient heritage," said one overseer. "We've been doing things from printed books almost as long as they've been printing books in America."

Several computer manufacturers, including Apple and IBM, have taken an interest in Harvard's plans to expand its information technology programs, and have made large gifts to the Business School and other faculties, the overseer said.

IBM executive John A. Armstrong '56 and Michael Crichton '64, author of the science fiction novel The Andromeda Strain, which described high-tech efforts to battle a mutating extraterrestrial virus, showed a particular interest in the use of computers for teaching, one overseer said.

"There's nothing [being developed now] that wasn't in The Andromeda Strain 25 years ago," said the overseer.

Bok Speaks

In a report to the Board, outgoing President Derek C. Bok discussed some of the initiatives he is trying to push forward before stepping down next spring. He informed the overseers of appointments he is working toward in a number of departments, including the beleaguered Afro-American Studies Department, overseers said.

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