Controversial Harvard U president resigns

Lawrence H. Summers, 51, resigned Tuesday after serving five turbulent years as president of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

The announcement came after faculty members began to question Summers’ ability to administer as president.

“I looked at the extent of the rancor that had emerged in parts of the faculty of (the College of) Arts and Sciences and the extent to which for many I personally had become a large issue, and concluded very reluctantly that the agenda for the university that I cared about – as well as my own satisfaction – would be best served by stepping down,” Summers said in a statement.

Summers will be replaced by former Harvard University president, Derek C. Bok. Bok, who served as president from 1971-1991 will only replace Summers until a new successor is found.

“There is no institution I care about more deeply, and I will make every effort to work with colleagues to further the University’s agenda during this transitional period,” Bok said in a statement.

As university president, Summers, a former chief economist of the World Bank and Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton, strived to follow an “agenda of growth.”

Summers changed much of the university’s undergraduate curriculum by introducing new courses in science, encouraging students to take better advantage of the study abroad option, and increasing the amount of classes with small group instruction.

Throughout his tenure as president, Summers stressed the importance of the growth of faulty diversity and the extension of financial aid for students.

Summers’ plan for growth included the most important and newest addition to the University. Harvard plans to extend the university ground to the Allston section of Boston which will include buildings for the arts, sciences, education and public health departments.

“Through his tenure as president, Harvard has both invigorated its academic programs and engaged more keenly with the complex challenges facing society. Harvard’s paths forward will long bear the imprint of his vision,” said a statement released by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s executive governing board.

However, Summers’ successes in his five years as president have been overshadowed by various scandals.

Summers infuriated faculty at a science conference in January 2005 when he suggested that gender differences might explain the absence of women in the realm of science.

On Mar. 15, 2005, members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a no-confidence vote regarding Summers’ abilities as president.

Despite his turbulent relationship with Harvard’s faculty, Summers has had the support of many students. His appearance to announce his resignation drew numerous students to show their support.

Some students think that Summers’ resignation will open new avenues for Harvard’s curriculum.

“Most people have an opinion, and the opinions are very mixed, but no one is too up in arms about it,” said Harvard sophomore Jeremy Steinemann. “Most students believe that we badly need curricular changes. We just lost . Will Kirby and now we are losing Summers, which will definitely affect those changes.”

Kirby, former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, had stepped down just three weeks prior to Summers’ announcement.

Summers, who plans to take a one year sabbatical, is expected to be appointed as one of Harvard’s prestigious “university professors.”

“As I leave the presidency, my greatest hope is that the University will build on the important elements of renewal that we have begun over the last several years,” Summers said.

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