Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Larry Summers is out

He steps down from the Presidency of Harvard at the end of the semester, reports the New York Times:

Hailed in his first days as a once-in-a-century leader, in the mold of perhaps Harvard's greatest president, Charles W. Eliot, Dr. Summers, 51, came into office with plans to expand the campus, put new focus on undergraduate education and integrate the university's schools. But he eventually alienated professors with a personal style that many saw as bullying and arrogant.

His well-known desire to change Harvard's culture, which he saw as complacent, was accompanied by slights to some faculty members and missteps like his statement last year that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science.

And some of his major decisions — including overhauling the undergraduate curriculum, appointing deans and mapping out a new campus — were hugely divisive at the 370-year-old university.

"I looked at the extent of the rancor that had emerged in parts of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences," Dr. Summers told reporters yesterday, "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."

Here's his letter to the Harvard community. There is some discussion over at Brad DeLong's blog. Matthews Yglesias, a Harvard alumnus, offers his views here.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Why am I reminded of the phrase "congenital idiot" all of a sudden?

  2. Abi said...

    You just have a long memory, that's why!