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Shenton Out After 40 Years

The Rudenstine Era Begins

By Philip P. Pan

Secretary to the Governing Boards Robert Shenton, administrator behind the scenes and tireless civil servant, retired early this summer after 20 years at his post and nearly 40 years at the University.

As Secretary, Shenton managed the past two presidential searches and witnessed first hand the evolution of the relationship between the University's two governing boards, the Corporation and Board of Overseers.

"I had a wonderful, wonderful career at Harvard. This has been a marvelous place to be if you want to exercise responsible initiative," Shenton said in an interview last spring. "It has been great. I leave a very happy man."

The 67-year-old administrator said he served as a communications link between the governing boards and the University community. Shenton attended almost all proceedings of the governing boards and supervised the functioning of the 56 visiting committees.

"The Corporation has always treated me as if I was one of them," said Shenton, adding that he has made several personal friends on the job.

Shenton's other duties included overseeing Harvard Neighbors and the Office for Parenting, supervising the administration of the Joint Committee on Appointments and serving as chair of the Elections Committee of the Harvard Alumni Assoctation.

Perhaps the two most important and massive projects Shenton tackled were the presidential searches that ended in the selections of Derek C. Bok and Neil L. Rudenstine.

During his tenure, Shenton earned a reputation for keeping the business of the governing boards and search committees a deep secret. He said he stopped speaking to reporters "many, many years ago," because he was repeatedly misquoted and because he did not feel he was in a position to comment on issues.

Corporation member and former Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky praised Shenton's professionalism: "Bob Shenton has been one of Harvard's great civil servants: faithful, energetic, loyal and always discreet. He has forgotten more about Harvard than most of us will ever know, and I will greatly miss his steadying influence and good advice."

University attorney Michael W. Roberts '72, who worked closely with Shenton on last year's presidential search, will serve as Acting Secretary this year. Roberts is also serving as a special assistant to Rudenstine.

Shenton said he sees the near future as an exciting period for the University. "I think this is going to be a great time ahead, a lot of challenges, an exciting time," he said

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