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Under Bacow, Likely Administrative Turnover

Lawrence S. Bacow is the president-elect of Harvard University.
Lawrence S. Bacow is the president-elect of Harvard University. By Timothy R. O'Meara
By Jamie D. Halper and William L. Wang, Crimson Staff Writers

When Lawrence S. Bacow becomes Harvard’s 29th president this summer, not only will he bring new ideas about how to run the University, he will quickly begin appointing administrators to help advance his initiatives and fill recently vacated positions.

Though University President Drew G. Faust said in an interview last month that she plans to complete the various dean searches currently underway, it will fall to Bacow to choose a new Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development, as well as any other roles that open up before or in the first few months of his term.

Faust said administrators often step down when a new president assumes their role. She said the length of presidential terms at Harvard usually serve as natural career breaks for people who work in any given administration.

"People who have served with me may feel that their chunk of time is the appropriate one,” Faust said. “I think it’s less about me than this is a time when it’s a moment to do something different and something new.”

Shortly after Faust was appointed in 2007, she took over searching for new deans for the Medical School, the Graduate School of Design, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She also quickly created the position of executive vice president and appointed Tamara Rogers to the then-vacant position of vice president for alumni affairs and development.

Though no other vice presidents besides Rogers have said they plan to step down at this time, more turnover could surface in the coming months.

Derek C. Bok, Harvard’s 25th president who served two decades in the role, said administrative turnover associated with a new president stems from two main things—the chemistry the incoming president has with the current staff members, and whether people from the former administration see the regime change as a chance to move onto something new. He said the turnover process, though, can take some time.

“Sometimes that will kind of take a year,” Bok said. “People will announce to a new president that they're going to leave in a year, and that gives a little bit of breathing room for the new president to choose a replacement.”

Though Bacow will be new to the presidency, he is already heavily involved with Harvard leadership. He serves as a member of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. Bok said he is unsure if Bacow’s familiarity with the University will lead to less turnover than is typical in presidential transitions.

Judy S. Olson, who served as chief of staff when Bacow became the president of Tufts in 2001, wrote in an email to The Crimson that she did not know Bacow prior to his appointment to Tufts, but that she had a positive experience when he served as her boss.

While Olson did not comment specifically on the staffing transition during Bacow’s tenure at Tufts, she listed many challenges associated with staffing a president’s office.

“The challenge in staffing a president’s office is assembling a team of people who work well together to the benefit of the university, who are great at what they do, are creative and versatile, and understand that they serve the entire university community and are there to help,” she wrote.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JamieDHalper.

—Staff writer William L. Wang can be reached at

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