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Graduate School Faculty Weigh In

Few comment, but those that do largely stand by Summers

By Javier C. Hernandez and Daniel J. T. Schuker, Crimson Staff Writerss

While Tuesday’s meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) allowed some professors to express opinions on the controversial presidency of Lawrence H. Summers, professors at Harvard’s graduate schools are weighing in as well.

Though over 60 professors were contacted for this article, few chose to respond or comment publicly on the controversy.

The professors that did speak to The Crimson addressed Summers’ recent remarks regarding women in science. They also discussed the disparity in reactions between graduate school faculty and professors at FAS—which includes Harvard College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“My reading is that there is not the same level of frustration or resentment or disappointment with President Summers as there is by some members of the FAS faculty,” said Kennedy School of Government (KSG) Professor of Public Service David R. Gergen, noting that he did not speak on behalf of the entire KSG faculty.

“Certainly many have been critical of specific statements he has made, but I have never heard a Graduate School of Design (GSD) faculty member express anger at President Summers...or indicate a feeling that [he] sought to govern by fear or intimidation,” Dean of the Faculty of Design Alan A. Altshuler wrote in an e-mail.

“I’ve heard...considerable support for Larry Summers and suggestions that some members of the FAS faculty are using this whole thing to oppose change,” Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor Joseph L. Badaracco wrote in an e-mail.

Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz worried that a potential FAS vote of no confidence may promote false perceptions of University sentiment.

“They don’t speak for the entire Faculty,” he said. “They certainly don’t speak for the entire University.”

Graduate school professors expressed hopes that Summers will continue to lead Harvard University.

“He remains a superb leader, and I believe it would be highly damaging to the University if he were driven out by those currently seeking that outcome,” said Altshuler.

Gergen, who served under four U.S. presidents, agreed.

“He should be given a chance to show that he is going to be a more effective president and a collegial president,” he said. “I think he has the potential over be a highly successful president.”

But in contrast, Professor of Education and Social Policy Gary A, Orfield echoed sentiments heard at Tuesday’s Faculty meeting.

“I would defend the right...of a faculty member to say what they want, but if you are the leader of the institution there is a special responsibility,” Orfield said.

But Badaracco put the onus of restoring Summers’ leadership capacity on FAS faculty.

“What is now impairing Summers’ ability to lead is the refusal of some to accept a sincere apology, put this behind us, and find ways to work together.” Badaracco said.

While the Summers controversy has dominated recent discourse among FAS Faculty, Badaracco, who is also master of Currier House, pointed out that he has heard little discussion about it on the HBS campus.

Dershowitz expressed a separate concern, worrying that some FAS faculty members are attempting to impose a “politically correct straightjacket” on other Harvard professors that he believes will hurt free speech at the University.

Deans from six Harvard graduate schools did not respond to requests for comment by The Crimson.

—Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez can be reached at

—Staff writer Daniel J. T. Schuker can be reached at

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