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Slate Winnowed For Harvard Presidency

By Joshua E. Gewolb, Crimson Staff Writer

The presidential search committee has whittled the list of contenders for the University presidency down to about 30 to 40 candidates, discarding over 450 other nominees, including Vice President Al Gore '69 and President Bill Clinton.

Search committee chair Robert G. Stone Jr. '45 read the short list at the December meeting of the Board of Overseers, members of that body confirm.

Sources familiar with the committee's work say that among its top candidates are:

* Lee C. Bollinger, the president of the University of Michigan and noted First Amendment scholar, who has not taught at Harvard;

* Business School Dean Kim B. Clark '74;

* Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67;

* Kathleen M. Sullivan, dean of Stanford Law School and former Harvard Law School professor;

* Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, who left his position as a tenured professor in the Economics Department to join the Clinton administration;

* Harold Varmus, the former National Institute of Health director and currently the CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who got a masters degree at Harvard.

Members of the Board of Overseers declined to confirm or deny that these names were on the short list they were read.

What they have revealed is that on Sunday, Dec. 10, the Board gathered in the ballroom of the Corporation's headquarters in Loeb House to discuss the search.

As they sat around tables facing each other, search committee chair Robert G. Stone Jr. '45 read the short list aloud.

Sometimes he paused to give brief explanations of the candidates, often explaining the present positions of those candidates not currently at Harvard.

The Board was told to keep the names of those on the list in the strictest confidence.

The Board of Overseers must approve the search committee's choice for president. The Board next meets in February; if the search committee has not made a final selection by that meeting they may have to convene a special meeting to ratify a candidate, as they did in 1991when President Neil L. Rudenstine was appointed.

In the past few weeks, the search committee has been conducting interviews with possible candidates for the presidency, sources close to the process say. Sources say that after the Overseers meeting, some members of the committee traveled to New York where they conducted interviews.

Sources close to the search process say that typically the committee interviews candidates about what Harvard needs in a president, without telling them that they are being considered for the job.

As they conduct these interviews, the committee will be trying to discriminate between people with radically different backgrounds.

The names under closest consideration range widely from Harvard administrators, to a hospital chief, to a head of a large public University. And though Clinton and Gore were not on the list read to Overseers, their Treasury Secretary remains a leading candidate.

The interview process can be lengthy; Rudenstine estimates that he was interviewed six times before his appointment.

In the Rudenstine search the committee also interviewed a number of other candidates multiple times; its intentions were not clear, even to the candidates, until the final days.

University spokesman Joe Wrinn said yesterday that Harvard has no comment on the status of the present search.

--Alan E. Wirzbicki contributed to the reporting of this article.

--Staff writer Joshua E. Gewolb can be reached at

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