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Two Given University’s Top Honor

By Dan Rosenheck, Crimson Staff Writer

Economics professor Dale W. Jorgenson and music professor Christoph J. Wolff have been given Harvard’s highest honor, the designation of University Professor.

The title means that Jorgenson and Wolff are certified to teach in any of Harvard’s schools and will report directly to University President Lawrence H. Summers rather than Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby.

Summers, who appoints all University Professors, called Wolff a “scholar of enormous insight” and said Jorgenson’s “insights have transformed economists’ understanding of the fundamental processes of production, investment and consumption” in a statement to the Gazette, the University’s official publication.

The University professorships were instituted by President James B. Conant ’14 in 1935 to support “professors with roving commissions whose teaching and creative work shall not be hampered by departmental considerations.”

Wolff, now the Adams University Professor, said that while the honor “doesn’t make too much of a difference with respect to my regular duties,” the global nature of the position encourages him to “make it more of a point to get into cross disciplinary research in the years ahead.”

“The idea of a university professorship is that it crosses the traditional boundaries of the various disciplines,” he said.

Jorgenson, who was named Morris University Professor, is traveling and was not available for comment.

Wolff, who has spent 27 years at Harvard, is widely recognized for his scholarship on Bach and Mozart and has served in numerous faculty governance roles, including a nine-year term as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences that ended in 2000.

Jorgenson focuses on applying economic theory and statistics to real-world problems.

He has conducted ground breaking studies on the economic impact of technology.

Jorgenson also served on the influential Resources Committee under former Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles. He has been at Harvard for 33 years.

Wolff emphasized the importance of contributions outside of teaching and research in being selected as a University Professor.

“University citizenship does play a role,” he said. “I’ve really dealt with all departments, and my scholarship has been influenced by the relationships that I’ve developed with other fields.”

Jorgenson is the first professor to hold the Morris chair, named after former Pennsylvania legislator Samuel W. Morris ’40, while Wolff inherits the vacant Adams chair.

The Fletcher University professorship, formerly held by Cornel R. West ’74, has remained empty since West left Harvard for Princeton last spring.

—Staff writer Dan Rosenheck can be reached at

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