Report: Summers Set To Resign

Wall Street Journal: President will step down by next Tuesday

University President Lawrence H. Summers is expected to resign in advance of next Tuesday's full Faculty meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported on page A3 this morning, citing two anonymous sources "familiar with the situation."

Harvard officials and professors close to the president could not confirm the report of Summers’ imminent departure. “I have heard nothing,” said the dean of the Graduate School of Design, Alan A. Altshuler, a prominent Summers supporter. The dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Joseph B. Martin, also said, “I have no information.”

David R. Gergen, a professor of public service at the Kennedy School of Government who advised Summers during last winter’s women-in-science storm, likewise said that he had not heard the president would resign. And two members of Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the University’s second-highest governing body, said last night that they had not heard anything about whether or not Summers will resign before the Feb. 28 Faculty meeting, at which Summers is scheduled to face the second no-confidence motion of his five-year-old presidency.

The Harvard Corporation is the only body with the power to fire Summers. One of its members, Robert E. Rubin ’60, is adamantly supporting Summers and made phone calls to at least one University official last week on the president’s behalf, the Journal is reporting. Rubin did not return calls to his mobile phone seeking comment last night.

The story carries the bylines of Pulitzer Prize-winning education reporter Daniel Golden and former Crimson managing editor Zachary M. Seward ’07-’09.

The manner in which reports of Summers’ resignation are emerging from Harvard may lend ammunition to professors who have blasted the president’s managerial style.

“Mass. Hall seems to be running the University by leaking things to the press,” said History Department chair Andrew Gordon last night. “That’s one of the reasons so many faculty are so upset,” Gordon added.

The latest round of anti-Summers ire was sparked by the resignation of Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby in late January, after a report in The Crimson, co-authored by Seward, said that Kirby was forced out by Summers.

But professors had begun to express their concerns about Summers to Corporation members several months earlier.

Gordon wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson last week: “I know of at least 10 colleagues who have met with one or more members of the corporation, either individually or in groups, since last March, and I’m certain there are others.”

“Members of the corporation are clearly concerned about the sentiment of the faculty, as they should be,” Gordon wrote.


While disaffection with Summers has been widespread throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, leaders of several other schools are expressing their admiration for the embattled president.

“I think it’s appropriate for everyone to realize that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences isn’t the only school at the University,” Law School Dean Elena Kagan said.

“I think Larry’s been excellent for the Law School,” Kagan said. She added, “He’s never meddled or interfered inappropriately with what I view to be Law School prerogatives or Law School faculty prerogatives.”

The dean of the Kennedy School, David T. Ellwood ’75, said: “I really admire Larry’s vision for the University. It’s something I deeply share.”

“Here at the Kennedy School, he’s been enormously helpful,” Ellwood said.

The dean of the School of Dental Medicine, R. Bruce Donoff, said, “I do not know the particulars of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences situation.” But, Donoff added, “He has been a friend to the School of Dental Medicine.”

Althsuler, the Design dean, said that Summers “has been an extraordinarily effective president.”

“I think this has played out to date as an internal FAS matter as if Larry were the president of FAS.”

Altshuler said that if there existed a University Senate, with representatives from all the schools, Summers’ fate might be different.

“It is perhaps a flaw in the Harvard governing system that there’s no mechanism to find out what the University faculty thinks,” Altshuler said.

Altshuler said he was contacted by a Corporation member earlier this month who sought his views on Summers. But the Corporation’s limited probe of professors’ opinions might not have extended beyond the dean level at non-FAS schools. Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz said in a phone interview Sunday: “I don’t know that any Law School people have been contacted.”

Asked why he hasn’t sought out Corporation members himself, Dershowitz said: “Nobody ever told me the secret handshake. I would be delighted to talk to anyone in the Corporation, but I wouldn’t know how to begin a call. They darn well ought to be talking to people beyond the Arts and Sciences unless this University is going to become beholden to one faculty.”

—Anton S. Troianovski contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez can be reached at