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EAST-WEST-RESEARCH  March 2005

EAST-WEST-RESEARCH March 2005

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Subject:

Harvard faculty: No-confidence in president. Alan Dershowitz: "the faculty vote is largely irrelevant..."

From:

"Serguei Alex. Oushakine" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Serguei Alex. Oushakine

Date:

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 17:55:45 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (185 lines)

http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/03/16/harvard.summers.ap/index.html

Harvard faculty: No-confidence in president

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Posted: 9:54 AM EST (1454 GMT)


"I have tried these last couple months to listen to all that has been said, 
to learn from it, and to move forward, and that's what I am going to do,"
Summers said after the vote.


CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (AP) -- Harvard President Lawrence Summers was 
hoping for a sign that the worst was behind him, that critics were prepared 
to accept his apologies and move on.

Instead, Summers got a reminder Tuesday of just how angry some Harvard 
faculty members are over his management style and recent controversial 
comments about women in science.

In a surprising -- if only symbolic -- 218-185 vote, Harvard's Faculty of 
Arts and Sciences approved a motion expressing a "lack of confidence" in 
Summers' leadership.

In Harvard's nearly 400-year history, which includes bitter disputes between 
presidents and faculty over everything from religion to investment in 
apartheid-era South Africa, such a vote was unprecedented.

"This was a resounding statement the faculty lacks confidence in President 
Lawrence Summers and he should resign," said J. Lorand Matory, a professor 
of anthropology and African and African-American Studies who submitted the 
motion.
"There is no noble alternative to resignation."

Summers has given no indication he would consider stepping down. He 
officially answers only to the Harvard Corporation, the university's 
governing body, which has expressed support for him. Furthermore, the arts 
and sciences faculty is just one of 10 that comprise Harvard.

Still, the vote Tuesday came as a surprise -- even Matory said he expected 
no more than 30 percent support -- and complicates Summers' efforts to 
regain momentum for an agenda of remaking the university.

That agenda appears to have been largely sidetracked as Summers has spent 
much of the last two months dealing with fallout from the controversy, which 
ignited with comments he made at an academic conference on women in science.

"That's a 50-50 question," said emeritus professor Ihor Sevcenko, when asked 
if Summers could continue to lead Harvard effectively. "Much depends on the 
way he behaves."

At the January conference, Summers argued that intrinsic differences in 
ability are a key reason why fewer women are in the applicant pool for jobs 
at the highest levels of science. He has apologized repeatedly, though a 
number of supporters have argued he was raising a legitimate academic 
question.

Many faculty had expected that only a milder resolution expressing "regret" 
over both Summers' comments and "aspects of the President's managerial 
approach" but noting his commitment to addressing the issues -- would pass. 
But both measures were approved, the latter by a 253-137 vote.

"I thought the conservative forces would be much stronger than they turned 
out to be," said Sevcenko.

Summers spoke briefly to reporters afterward, struggling to make himself 
heard over the voices of protesters.

"As I said to the faculty, I have tried these last couple months to listen 
to all that has been said, to learn from it, and to move forward, and that's 
what I am going to do," Summers said.

Ruth Wisse, a literature professor and Summers supporter, emphasized the 
"lack of confidence" measure was different from a "no-confidence" vote, 
which in the British parliamentary system causes the fall of a government.

The criticism over Summers' comments quickly expanded into a broader attacks 
on the president's management style and his vision for the university, 
including major projects to expand Harvard's campus across the Charles River 
in Boston.

Tuesday's meeting was Summers' third with the arts and sciences faculty 
since the controversy erupted. He has also formed two task forces to address 
issues of women faculty at Harvard and women scientists more generally.


http://www.showmenews.com/2005/Feb/20050220News025.asp

President of Harvard canít quell Ďfirestormí
Published Sunday, February 20, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - Harvard University President Lawrence Summers has 
apologized, pronounced himself a changed man and released a transcript of 
his much-debated remarks on womenís aptitude in science.

But with each step, heís failed to quell a heated controversy leading up to 
what might be a turbulent faculty meeting and questions about whether he has 
the right temperament and vision to lead the nationís most prominent 
university.

"I do not think it is possible that he can run Harvard effectively after all 
this," said Daniel Fisher, a physics professor.

The latest development came Thursday when Summers acceded to a faculty 
request to release the transcript of his Jan. 14 remarks on why fewer women 
than men reach top-level science jobs. He suggested biological differences 
might play a role, with men having a greater range of test scores in math 
and science than women.

"This is like a firestorm thatís sweeping across the university and burning 
and burning, and more oil keeps being thrown on it," said James Watson, a 
professor of Chinese society and anthropology. He said the transcript 
distressed him, but he has not yet decided how he will vote on a 
no-confidence measure.

"The more it continues, the worse it will be for the long-term direction of 
the university," Watson said.

Summers faces a faculty meeting Tuesday at which some academics have 
suggested they could push for a no-confidence vote - an unprecedented step 
in the universityís modern history.

Still, Summersí position is far from hopeless. Faculty no-confidence votes 
are largely symbolic; the Harvard Corporation, the board that governs the 
university and oversees Summers, issued a strong statement of support for 
him Thursday. And Tuesdayís meeting involves only Harvardís arts and 
sciences faculty, who represent one of just 12 branches of the sprawling and 
loosely governed Harvard empire.

"I think the faculty vote is largely irrelevant because itís not the full 
faculty," said law Professor Alan Dershowitz. "I think the idea of firing a
president because of his exercise of academic freedom, free speech, would 
send the worst possible message. Itís sounding more and more like the trial 
of Galileo."

Some other faculty members said Friday that they thought the release of the 
transcript boosted Summersí position. Two economics professors circulated a 
letter - signed by at least 80 faculty members - expressing support for 
Summers.

John Bethell, who edited Harvard Magazine from 1966 to 1994, said past 
confrontations between Harvard presidents and faculty have always been 
smoothed over before reaching the point of formal no-confidence 
votes.Summersí blunt style surfaced in his previous job as treasury 
secretary during the Clinton administration, and he had been in scraps with 
some Harvard faculty members before the latest controversy - though others 
welcomed his direct approach.

Bethell said he expects Summers to survive but said his management methods 
have left him little good will to tap. Much of the discussion at a 
contentious faculty meeting last week focused not on Summersí remarks but on 
broader questions of leadership style.

"Harvard faculty people are not used to a leader who is as aggressive," 
Bethell said.

Fisher, the physics professor, said many faculty members "think the whole 
issue about this transcript, what he did or didnít say, is a tiny part of 
the major problem."

Summers has apologized repeatedly for his remarks, most recently in a letter 
posted with the transcript Thursday. His spokeswoman, Lucie McNeil, said in 
an e-mail Friday that Summers is "talking to many members of the faculty" 
and that governing board members "have expressed their judgment." The 
dispute over Summersí remarks at a National Bureau of Economic Research 
Conference has spread far beyond Cambridge and brought renewed attention to 
the debate over why fewer women than men reach top-level science jobs.
The presidents of Princeton, Stanford and MIT have published an op-ed piece 
critical of Summersí comments. And this week, graduate students at Yale 
protested that President Richard Levin had not spoken out on the 
matter.Sopen Shah, a pre-med student who has read the transcript, said she 
disagreed with much of what Summers said. But after reading his words, she 
was now more inclined to believe "Summers didnít mean to be offensive. Maybe 
he just misunderstood."

David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, said that it is 
not uncommon for a president to continue in office despite faculty 
no-confidence votes and that often, threatened votes never materialize and 
grievances are worked out in faculty meetings.

"Speculation about a no-confidence vote is part of the politics preceding 
the meeting," Ward said. "The vote is much tougher to come by. ... Sometimes 
the political or institutional fallout of such votes begins to weigh on 
people." 

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