Grad Students Want Spot On Search Panel

Student leaders push for more influence in choosing the next president

The presidents of Harvard’s 11 graduate and professional student governments have called on the University to give a spot on the presidential search committee to a graduate student.

In a letter sent on Thursday, the student leaders asked the University to skirt tradition and include graduate representation on the nine-member search committee, which currently includes only the six members of the Harvard Corporation—the University’s top governing body—and three representatives from the less powerful Board of Overseers.

The University has said a student advisory committee will offer advice in the search, but Graduate Council President John W. Kalis, a second-year student at the Divinity School, said graduate students need a more powerful voice.

“I’m really concerned that students will not be taken seriously in this process because their input will be seen as second class and lower than the select people who have unfettered access,” said Kalis, who added that the group had not received a reply to its letter from the University as of last night.

The president of the Law School Council, Zachary W. Prager, said that the next Harvard leader will have to confront issues that specifically affect graduate students—such as the coordination of cross-registration among graduate schools.

“I think having representation at the search committee level is essential to ensuring that those concerns really rise to the level of importance that they deserve,” he said.

The University has not yet announced the size of the advisory boards or how their members will be selected, and a University spokesman, Joe Wrinn, declined to comment yesterday.

Graduate student representation is also absent at the current stage of the search for the next chief of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). University President Lawrence H. Summers and the Faculty’s governing council agreed in February that a committee of professors would compile a list of deanship candidates, and that the committee would then vet finalists for the job.

The Undergraduate Council last night appointed seven students to an advisory panel that will issue a report on the qualities of an ideal dean.

Graduate Student Council President Benjamin G. Lee, whose organization comprises master’s and doctoral candidates within FAS, said that he and other graduate leaders will meet today with Vice President for Policy A. Clayton Spencer and Kasia E. Lundy ’95, Summers’ chief of staff. Incoming Interim President Derek C. Bok called for that meeting to explore graduate involvement in the dean search, though Lee said he was not sure if Bok would attend.

Lee said he will push for representation on the Faculty’s dean search advisory committee so that graduate students can help “to frame the whole discussion” on the next FAS chief.

—Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez can be reached at

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