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Search Committee Names Students, Faculty to Advisory Panels

First time in recent memory that undergrads will have formal input in choosing Harvard's chief

By Javier C. Hernandez, Crimson Staff Writer

Thirteen professors and 14 students will advise the committee searching for Harvard’s 28th president, the University announced today.

For the first time in recent memory, faculty and student representatives from each of the University’s schools will offer a formal consultative voice in the ongoing presidential search, which launched in March and is expected to be completed by springtime next year.

Political scientist Sidney Verba ’53, the Pforzheimer University professor and the director of the Harvard University Library, will chair the group of faculty members, and Matthew J. Murray, a joint-degree student at the Kennedy School of Government and the Law School, will lead the student committee.

“We look forward to benefiting from the thoughtful counsel of both of these groups, whose members will bring a range of helpful perspectives from across Harvard,” search committee chair James R. Houghton ’58 said in a statement.

Houghton said that the search committee has begun a “series of structured consultations with various alumni groups as well as leaders in higher education.” He added that the committee will also solicit advice from Harvard staff.

The University announced in March that the chairs of each advisory group would meet with the search committee “from time to time” and that members of the search committee would “periodically” attend meetings of the advisory boards. But the ultimate selection of the next president will be left to the nine members of the search committee, culled from the ranks of the University’s two top governing boards, the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers.

Since the launch of the search in March, undergraduates and graduates have bemoaned the exclusion of students from the committee. Last month, the Harvard Graduate Council—which includes representatives from each of the University’s graduate and professional schools—released a letter calling on the University to add a seat for a graduate student to the search committee. The letter resulted in an April 14 meeting between University administrators and leaders from the Graduate Council, but no change has ensued and both the University and the council have declined to comment on the meeting.

In addition to Verba, the faculty advisory committee includes four other members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—the most of any single school. In February, University President Lawrence H. Summers cited an inability to repair relations with “segments” of that school’s faculty as the chief reason for his resignation. And some professors at the University's other schools have expressed worries that the search committee may cave to Faculty clout in selecting Harvard's next leader.

The four FAS members are English professor Stephen Greenblatt, history and African and African American studies professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, chemistry professor Eric N. Jacobsen, and astronomy professor Ramesh Narayan.

The other faculty members are Lisa Berkman of the School of Public Health, Richard Fallon of the Law School, Amy Hollywood of the Divinity School, Alex Krieger of the Design School, William A. Sahlman of the Business School, Judith D. Singer of the Graduate School of Education, Robert Stavins of the Kennedy School of Government, and Christopher T. Walsh of Harvard Medical School.

Three Harvard College students—Whitney S. F. Baxter ’07, Katherine A. Beck ’08, and Vivek G. Ramaswamy ’07—will serve on the student advisory committee. “I just hope to be a conduit to the undergraduate student community and to make sure that undergraduates are represented to the search committee," Baxter said today.

The other members of that committee are Emilie M. Dressaire and Sarah A. Carter of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Liza K. C. Ching of the Kennedy School, Kerith J. Conron of the School of Public Health, Gillian L. Fell of the Medical School, Christopher C. Fonzone of the Law School, Mark J. McInroy of the Divinity School, Owen Patrick of the Business School, Hanna B. Rodriguez-Farrar of the Graduate School of Education, and Christopher White of the Design School.

-Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez can be reached at

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