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Bishop Tutu Steps Down From Board of Overseers

South African Leader Cites Turmoil in Homeland

By Gady A. Epstein, Crimson Staff Writer

South African Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, an outspoken critic of the University's investment policies in South Africa, stepped down from Harvard's Board of Overseers last week, citing the volatile climate in his homeland.

Tutu, whose six-year term would have expired in 1995, said in a letter to President Neil L. Rudenstine that the violence and political turmoil in his country would demand his undivided attention.

"The situation in my home country is volatile in the extreme and very fluid, requiring that many of us should be more available to help in the delicate but exhilarating business of being midwives for the birth of the much-awaited new South Africa," Tutu wrote.

The Archbishop had kind parting words for the University, which has not fully divested of South Africa-related stock. He said he wished he could remain on the board because Harvard "is entering an exciting phase in its illustrious history and is set to make outstanding contributions to a world in flux and transition."

President Neil L. Rudenstine thanked Tutu for his service to the University, and accepted his resignation with "the greatest regret."

"He has served the world immeasurably, and Harvard has been honored to have him on its Board of Overseers," Rudenstine said.

Richard Allen, Tutu's spokesperson, said the Archbishop found it difficult to attend the quarterly meetings of the alumni-elected governing board. He said it was Tutu's most demandingoverseas commitment."

Tutu has long been a critic of the University'sinvestment policies in South Africa, urgingHarvard to divest in a 1984 speech at MemorialHall. In 1988, he threatened to return his 1979honorary degree if Harvard did not sell its $230.9million in South Africa-related stock.

A year later, Tutu successfully ran for a seaton the Board of Overseers as a special petitionnominee of the pro-divestment groupHarvard-Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid(HRAAA).

While Tutu expressed interest in variouseducational issues during his term, his primaryconcern as an overseer was the University'sselective divestment policy. He argued for fulldivestment of companies with holding in SouthAfrica.

The issue of divestment cooled during the pasttwo years, as Nelson Mandela was released fromprison and President F.W. deKlerk passed ananti-apartheid referendum. All parties, Tutuincluded, softened their rhetoric.

Now, as violence in South Africa resurfaces,the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner has signalledthat his country's immediate needs take priorityover divestment.

"The issue of whether to lift or not to liftsanctions" has not been at the top of Tutu's mind,Allen said. He added that divestment has become amoot point lately: "The violence is stoppinginvestment anyway."

Arthur A. Hartman '47, president of the Boardof Overseers and a former ambassador to the SovietUnion, said he expected the board to thank Tutu"for the time, effort and thought that [he]contributed to our works."

But not all the overseers were pleased withTutu's presence on the board.

Several members had considered using theArchbishop's spotty attendance record to nudge himoff the board, according to HRAAA-nominatedOverseer Peter H. Wood '64.

"I've heard the issue raised, and I've beensurprised and discouraged that it would be evenbrought up," Wood said. "That's ridiculous. Wedon't apply that standard to any powerful whitefolks who are vacationing off in the Bahamas."

Tutu himself was disappointed by the number ofmeetings the attend.

"He attended fewer meetings than he would wantto," his spokesperson Allen said. "It was a realstruggle to attend any more than about one ayear."

"It's impossible for him to leave the city whenthere's an outbreak of violence...We never know ifhe's going to go until he actually gets on theaircraft."

Wood, a professor at Duke University, said hewas "sorry that [Tutu] would find it necessary toresign from the Board."

"Simply by his nominal presence, he lends agreat deal of strength to the institution and Ithink it would be most unfortunate if it had beenimplied to him in any way that he was not welcomeon the overseers. I certainly will miss him as acolleague," Wood said

Tutu has long been a critic of the University'sinvestment policies in South Africa, urgingHarvard to divest in a 1984 speech at MemorialHall. In 1988, he threatened to return his 1979honorary degree if Harvard did not sell its $230.9million in South Africa-related stock.

A year later, Tutu successfully ran for a seaton the Board of Overseers as a special petitionnominee of the pro-divestment groupHarvard-Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid(HRAAA).

While Tutu expressed interest in variouseducational issues during his term, his primaryconcern as an overseer was the University'sselective divestment policy. He argued for fulldivestment of companies with holding in SouthAfrica.

The issue of divestment cooled during the pasttwo years, as Nelson Mandela was released fromprison and President F.W. deKlerk passed ananti-apartheid referendum. All parties, Tutuincluded, softened their rhetoric.

Now, as violence in South Africa resurfaces,the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner has signalledthat his country's immediate needs take priorityover divestment.

"The issue of whether to lift or not to liftsanctions" has not been at the top of Tutu's mind,Allen said. He added that divestment has become amoot point lately: "The violence is stoppinginvestment anyway."

Arthur A. Hartman '47, president of the Boardof Overseers and a former ambassador to the SovietUnion, said he expected the board to thank Tutu"for the time, effort and thought that [he]contributed to our works."

But not all the overseers were pleased withTutu's presence on the board.

Several members had considered using theArchbishop's spotty attendance record to nudge himoff the board, according to HRAAA-nominatedOverseer Peter H. Wood '64.

"I've heard the issue raised, and I've beensurprised and discouraged that it would be evenbrought up," Wood said. "That's ridiculous. Wedon't apply that standard to any powerful whitefolks who are vacationing off in the Bahamas."

Tutu himself was disappointed by the number ofmeetings the attend.

"He attended fewer meetings than he would wantto," his spokesperson Allen said. "It was a realstruggle to attend any more than about one ayear."

"It's impossible for him to leave the city whenthere's an outbreak of violence...We never know ifhe's going to go until he actually gets on theaircraft."

Wood, a professor at Duke University, said hewas "sorry that [Tutu] would find it necessary toresign from the Board."

"Simply by his nominal presence, he lends agreat deal of strength to the institution and Ithink it would be most unfortunate if it had beenimplied to him in any way that he was not welcomeon the overseers. I certainly will miss him as acolleague," Wood said

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