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Harvard Law School Dean John Manning ’82 Named Interim Provost by Garber

Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning '82 will serve as Harvard's interim provost, interim president Alan M. Garber '76 announced Friday.
Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning '82 will serve as Harvard's interim provost, interim president Alan M. Garber '76 announced Friday. By Courtesy of Jessica Scranton
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

Interim University President Alan M. Garber ’76 appointed Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 to serve as interim provost Friday, a move that further solidifies Manning’s position as a frontrunner in the next presidential search.

Manning was an internal finalist in the last presidential search, which ultimately culminated in Claudine Gay’s selection as Harvard’s 30th president. His elevation to the provostship comes almost two months after Gay’s resignation on Jan. 2 plunged the University into its worst leadership crisis in recent history.

Manning will take a leave of absence from his role as HLS dean to become the University’s second most powerful administrator, an announcement that raised more questions about how Harvard intends to navigate its ongoing leadership crisis.

The carefully worded announcement allows for Manning to return to his role at the Law School if he does not remain in top University leadership, which likely made it easier for Manning to accept the offer to become interim provost.

Former HLS Deputy Dean John C.P. Goldberg, a professor of general jurisprudence, will become the Law School’s interim dean while Manning serves as provost.

Garber did not immediately drop his title as provost after his sudden appointment as interim president, but said in an interview with The Crimson in February that he would not remain provost for long.

Garber — who has served as provost since 2011 — said in the same interview that he does not intend to return as provost, suggesting that he would retire from University administration if the presidential search committee does not select him to permanently succeed Gay.

Manning will begin his tenure as interim provost on March 14.

“He is an ideal individual to advance several key University initiatives, including forthcoming efforts to explore institutional neutrality and how best to nurture an atmosphere of open inquiry, respectful dialogue, and academic freedom essential to academic excellence,” Garber wrote in his University-wide email.

Goldberg was tapped to serve as interim HLS dean over Bioethics professor I. Glenn Cohen — the Law School’s current deputy dean — which some viewed as the most obvious candidate to succeed Manning.

Manning joined the Harvard faculty in 2004, recruited in an effort by then-HLS Dean Elena Kagan to increase the number of conservative voices on the faculty. Manning was then promoted to HLS deputy dean in 2013, and then HLS dean in 2017.

In 2018, Manning resisted pressure to issue a public statement and remove Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh from his position as an HLS lecturer when he was nominated to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh later left his teaching position voluntarily.

“When I speak out as dean, I am understood to be taking a position on behalf of our Law School,” he wrote in a 2018 email to school affiliates. “But Harvard Law School is a large, diverse community that does not speak with one voice, and I cannot speak for all of you.”

Friday’s announcement also indicated that one of Manning’s priorities as interim provost will be to further the University’s efforts to consider adopting institutional neutrality, a move that The Crimson first reported was in the works last week.

“Despite polarization in the wider society, John and his colleagues have developed several successful initiatives at HLS that nurture a culture of free, open, and respectful discourse,” Garber wrote of Manning.

Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny S. Pritzker ’81 lauded Manning’s “deep integrity, wisdom, and experience,” according to a comment published by the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication.

“In John, President Garber has chosen an interim provost who will work tirelessly with passion and purpose to support and advance Harvard’s teaching and research mission and its foundational commitment to excellence and our commitment to learn and grow from these challenging times,” she told the Gazette.

Goldberg, who joined HLS in 2008, will also begin his interim position March 14. Before coming to Harvard, he also served as associate dean for research at Vanderbilt Law School.

Garber praised both Manning and Goldberg for their longstanding contributions to HLS and the University's values.

“John Manning and John Goldberg have more than a given name in common,” Garber wrote. “They are University citizens of the highest order, devoted to their areas of scholarly excellence and to their intellectual home in equal measure.”

“I am grateful for their willingness to serve in their new roles and inspired by their commitment to advancing Harvard’s vital work of teaching, learning, research, and service,” he added.

—Staff writer Emma H. Haidar can be reached at Follow her on X @HaidarEmma.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

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