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Summers Named New Harvard President

Newsletter Article

 

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers was recently appointed Harvard''s 27th president, succeeding outgoing President Neil Rudenstine this summer. Summers joined the Treasury in 1993, serving first as Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, then as Deputy Secretary, succeeding Robert Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury in 1999.

At a press conference at Harvard, Summers declared, "It''s good to be home!" Summers spent much of the 1980s at Harvard, earning his Ph.D. here in 1982. In 1983, at age 28, he was named professor of economics, becoming one of the youngest ever appointed to a Harvard professorship. "I consider it a privilege to start the third phase of my Harvard education," he said.

Summers has been an active colleague of the Belfer Center and Kennedy School. A pillar of the annual U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium from its first year, he has participated regularly in BCSIA events, including last June''s Global Leadership Forum.

Most recently, he visited the BCSIA Board in December to offer reflections on "academics in government." He noted the enormous impact of academics in shaping public policy and offered advice to professors contemplating a stint in government. Among his reflections:

· As a professor, if a problem is too hard, one can work on a different problem; in government, one must address the problems that arise, however difficult.

· Academics abstract from messy details in search of elegance, as they should; in government, inelegant operational details are crucial to the issues.

· In government, everything is interesting but only a few issues can be important.

· Diagnosis is easier than prescription. The most successful academics in government manage to develop workable policy prescriptions.

· If you cannot offer a better critique of your proposal than your opponent, you have not examined it carefully enough.

· Searching for and hiring the right people is fundamental.

Richard Zeckhauser, professor of political economy and a long-time friend of Summers said, "Equally respected in the classroom and on the world stage, and comfortable making the toughest of decisions, Larry is uniquely equipped to lead 21st century Harvard."

 

For Academic Citation:

"Summers Named New Harvard President." Harvard University.

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