Choosing Rudenstine's Successor Follows Tradition

As the nine members of the presidential search committee meet over the coming year, the process they use to select a successor to President Neil L. Rudenstine will look familiar.

The oldest University in the country has changed in many ways, but the way it chooses its leaders has stayed constant. The committee will follow the well-worn path of soliciting suggestions for the next president by deluging students, faculty and staff with letters.

"We had very extensive interviews with faculty and staff, as well as people outside the University," said former Corporation member Charles P. Slichter '45, a veteran of the searches for Rudenstine and former president Derek C. Bok.


While Rudenstine is not a member of the committee to choose his successor, he will be consulted during the process.

In the search for Rudenstine, Slichter said, "We met with Bok and asked him [about successors]--it would be crazy not to ask the current president about people. You'd be crazy not to get all the help you could get."

In fact, the only major change in the presidential search process throughout Harvard's history was the addition of three Overseers to the committee in the search that produced Rudenstine--hardly a sweeping step of liberalization.

"[The process] changed a bit, but we did it for a reason," Slichter said. By adding the Overseers, he said, "we thought we'd strengthen the input."

According to Slichter, the Overseers, who must approve the Corporation's choice for president, wanted more information about the search process and other possible candidates.

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