Harvard steals Organic Chemist From Caltech

Rudenstine bypasses ad hoc committee

Andrew G. Myers, a chemistry professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a leading synthetic organic chemist has accepted a tenured position in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) following an unusually abbreviated review process.

Myers was officially offered his Harvard appointment March 20 and accepted within a week in a letter to Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles, himself an accomplished organic chemist.

CCB began the process of filling the professorship two years ago. In early February, President Neil L. Rudenstine reviewed the Myers case.

According to David A. Evans, chair of CCB and Lawrence professor of chemistry, Rudenstine "ruled that an ad hoc committee did not have to be convened because of the strength of the case."

An ad hoc committee traditionally meets to review a candidate who has been recommended for tenure by a department. The committee--which consists of experts from within and outside Harvard--makes a recommendation to Rudenstine, but does not vote. Later, Rudenstine and Knowles meet and then Rudenstine personally makes the final tenure decision.


Harvard's confidential tenure process--and the ad hoc committee in particular--has come under fire with last spring's tenure denials of Associate Professor of Government Peter Berkowitz and Bonnie Honig, now a tenured professor at Northwestern University.

Some observers have alleged improprieties in the makeup of Berkowitz's ad hoc committee, which did not recommend him for tenure.

One tenured professor in the government department, who refused to be named, was unaware of a previous case where the ad hoc committee stage was bypassed.

"This is absolutely astonishing, " the professor said, regarding the rapid review of Myers' tenure case. "My understanding is that the ad hoc com- mittee is not skippable."

University spokesperson Alex Huppe would notcomment on Myers' tenure.

Evans explained that the department wassuccessful in its efforts to expedite theappointment because the department uniformlysupported Myers' candidacy.

"We're absolutely delighted," Evans said."[Myers] is unquestionably the best syntheticorganic chemist under the age of 40 in the world."

Myers said he was very excited to be joiningthe Harvard Faculty.

"I am particularly looking forward to workingwith my new colleagues on the Faculty and staff,"Myers said. "They are wonderful people and havemade every effort to smooth the transition for meand my research group."

Peter B. Dervan, chair and professor ofchemistry and chemical engineering at Caltech,could not be reached for comment.

Myers received his bachelor degree in chemistryfrom MIT. He went on to receive his Ph.D. inchemistry at Harvard.

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