Campus & Community

Rudenstine receives praise from many

6 min read
After a decade, President Neil L. Rudenstine has decided to resign from his leadership role at the University. Staff photo by Jon Chase.

“[President Clinton] appreciates Neil Rudenstine’s leadership at Harvard, particularly his commitment to federal research and science and technology and also his efforts to expand the African-American Studies department there.”

—White House statement

“I’m saddened by the news. Neil has done an outstanding job for Harvard in every aspect of the University. He has also been a skillful and effective advocate for higher education across the country, especially on key issues facing students and families. He has been an impressive leader on issues of diversity and student aid and the importance of maintaining a strong government-university partnership for basic research. He is also a leading voice on the critical issues facing teaching hospitals. Harvard is fortunate to have a president with his great ability, sound judgment, and compassion, and I will miss his leadership very much.”

—Statement issued by Senator Edward M. Kennedy

“Neil Rudenstine has been a great president of Harvard. When he began, Harvard was among the top American universities. Today it is widely regarded as preeminent in the world. That is a measure of his remarkable success.

“He will leave his stamp in many ways. Two especially are notable. He attracted remarkable black scholars to Harvard’s faculty and built its Department of Afro-American Studies into a powerhouse. And he made Harvard, for the first time, a home for brilliant women — spending countless hours persuading leading women scholars that they could thrive at Harvard.

“He resolved the long-simmering tension between Harvard and Radcliffe, with an ingenious solution that gives Radcliffe’s name to an Institute of Advanced Studies that will continue the commitment to women in society.

“Neil has the soul of a scholar, and a generous, embracing leadership. They account, in part, for his extraordinary achievements.”

—Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Counsel of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and former General Counsel and Vice President of Harvard University

He kept his sights ‹ and ours ‹ on what we are here for ‹ the intellectual and academic matters.

—Jeremy Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as quoted in The Harvard Crimson

“Everybody is going to talk about the fabulously successful capital campaign, but I think he’s had a significant impact on the university by creating greater collaboration among the deans and across programs.”

—Mary Maples Dunn, acting dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, as quoted in the The Chronicle of Higher Education

“[He brought Harvard’s] full power to bear on important problems.”

—Charles Vest, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as quoted by The Washington Post

“I’m a great admirer of President Rudenstine’s work on the subject of diversity. He’s a national leader with his writings on the subject…Harvard is a formidable institution and I think President Rudenstine has taken good care of it.”

—Yale President Richard C. Levin, as quoted in The Harvard Crimson

“He is an individual driven by his personal conscience and his convictions and as a result tends to see issues with a moral dimension that some of his colleagues tend to miss…He has the capacity to rise above some of the immediate frustrations of the issues of the day, to take a broader, longer-term strategic view of higher education that I think has served Harvard very well and has served the country very well.”

—Stan Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education, as quoted in The Washington Post

“Neil is deeply committed to the core values of education and scholarship at the heart of every outstanding university. His solid grounding on these core values has been the foundation of his formidable success as a fund raiser. It has also provided the base for his very effective engagement of such social issues as the value of diversity and the need for funding of basic research in the sciences. All of us who admire Harvard are deeply grateful that the University has flourished under his leadership.”

—George Rupp, president of Columbia University

“His whole idea was to make Harvard greater than the sum of its parts. For Harvard, that was new.”

—UCLA Chancellor Al Carnesale, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times

“He has a focus and he picks the issues which are important and he works toward goals. But most significant is the breadth of his vision.”

—Jeremiah P. Ostriker ’59, the provost of Princeton, as quoted in The Harvard Crimson

“Harvard has this tradition of every tub on its own bottom…In the past, that has meant that the sum of the University is not greater than its parts. What Neil has been good at is getting the parts to work together so the sum total is greater.”

—Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, as quoted in The New York Times

“[He is] an extraordinary president and an ordinary guy.”

—Charles Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, as quoted in the Boston Globe

“A scholar of Renaissance literature, Rudenstine champions the sciences. He has pushed Washington to spend more on research and has addressed pressing new issues facing Harvard’s medical school and teaching hospitals. Hires such as law professor Lani Guinier and government professor William Julius Wilson have helped diversify the faculty. Rudenstine’s historic legacy may well be starting an effort to get Harvard’s fiercely independent schools to work more closely together.”

Boston Globe editorial

“Although the capital campaign was at the center of his tenure, Rudenstine will also be remembered for his artful negotiation of the Radcliffe merger and his nurturing of the Afro-American Studies Department. Rudenstine’s soft-spoken personality and calming influence kept Harvard and Radcliffe administrators at the negotiating table during the delicate discussions concerning Radcliffe’s future. His vision was a guiding force for the creation of the Institute that will carry on the Radcliffe tradition. More recently, Rudenstine’s considerable efforts in the selection of the Institute’s dean, Drew Gilpin Faust, demonstrates his commitment to the Institute’s mission for the advancement of women.”

The Harvard Crimson editorial