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Media Speculation Centered on Bollinger

By Garrett M. Graff, Crimson Staff Writer

According to widespread media speculation, University of Michigan President Lee C. Bollinger had only to pack his bags for Cambridge to become the 27th president of Harvard University.

Over the past few days, newspaper reports in the Boston Globe, Ann Arbor News, Detroit Free Press and countless college publications anointed Bollinger the heir apparent to current University President Neil L. Rudenstine, who will resign in June.

The Globe reported yesterday that "in recent days Bollinger has emerged as a consensus candidate on the [presidential search] committee."

"Chances appear greater than ever" that Bollinger will be the new president, the Detriot Free Press announced last week.

In its most recent issue, the Harvard Independent chose to run a profile of Bollinger, explaining its decision with an editor's note.

"The Harvard Independent working in collaboration with the Michigan Daily has received information....[that] leads us to believe [that Bollinger] will be the next president," the paper said.

This morning, the Michigan Daily ran a story announcing that Michigan Provost Nancy E. Cantor had been switched in the university's online directory from "Provost" to "Office of the President" and Cantor's vice provost had been switched to "Provost" in the directory. The Daily speculated that the changes heralded the appointment of an interim president as Bollinger left for Cambridge.

Michigan spokesperson Julie Peterson denied that any administrative reshuffling had occurred and said such speculation was "foolish."

By noon today, the paper had backed away from their article.

Last week, a Michigan Daily columnist was confident enough to report, "From Cambridge to Ann Arbor, what was once a question of 'Will he go?' now seems to be more a question of 'When will he go?'"

The speculation surrounding Bollinger began after a Feb. 20 report by The Crimson that the search committee had met with Bollinger for a third interview.

Two days later, the Globe picked up the story and quoted an unnamed Harvard official as saying, "Bollinger is now the safe choice...If anyone on the committee is uncertain, and you have Summers and Bollinger, you would choose Bollinger."

Michigan papers repeated the quote on the following day.

The Michigan papers were not the only ones to champion their hometown candidate--other candidates' hometown papers were equally forward.

On Feb. 6, the Daily Princetonian published that Princeton Professor Amy Gutmann '71 was "at the top of [the] list" of Harvard's short list of candidates.

--Staff writer Garrett M. Graff can be reached at ggraff@fas.harvard.edu.

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