Campus & Community

President Rudenstine appoints outside committee to advise Radcliffe

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President Neil L. Rudenstine announced the appointment of a committee of scholars and academics from outside Radcliffe and Harvard to assist in the process of long-term planning for the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Following is the letter announcing the committee and a listing of its members.

July 5, 2000

Dear Members of the Radcliffe and Harvard Communities:

Since the recent appointment of Drew Faust as founding Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, I have been working closely with her and with the Acting Dean, Mary Maples Dunn, to help develop and support a long-term planning process for the Institute.

In reaching their joint agreement last year, the Governing Boards of Radcliffe and Harvard deliberately did not attempt to create a detailed agenda and set of specific new academic initiatives for the Institute, believing that it was best to agree on clear principles and general guidelines, while leaving more explicit planning to the founding Dean and her colleagues.

Consistent with this approach, Dean-elect Faust has already begun consulting with Radcliffe alumnae and members of a faculty advisory committee for the Radcliffe Institute; with members of the Radcliffe Institute and individuals within Harvard; and with academic leaders at several universities. In addition, she will be visiting – during the coming months – other institutes for advanced studies across the country.

As part of this process, in close consultation with Drew Faust and Mary Maples Dunn, I have invited a group of distinguished scholars and academic leaders from outside Radcliffe and Harvard to form a special ad hoc committee to assist Dean-elect Faust and the Institute as they undertake the process of defining more precisely directions for the years ahead. A list of individuals who have agreed to serve on the committee is attached.

The Committee will be asked to help us reflect on how best to take advantage of the Institute’s unusual – indeed unique – capacities in the following areas (among others): how to realize the full benefits to be gained from the fact that the Institute has a strong identity of its own, with a mission far beyond Harvard, while also being a significant integral part of the University, with university-wide academic and other resources to draw upon; how to define – in more concrete, programmatic terms – the Institute’s simultaneous commitment to all fields of learning, and to the study of gender, women, and society; how to design optimal selection processes for annual Institute fellows (a group that may in the future include some doctoral and postdoctoral students, as well as faculty and practitioners); how best to configure the relationships among Radcliffe’s various units, in order to maximize their combined contribution to a strong unified Institute that has an international as well as a national role to play; how to begin identifying specific intellectual and scholarly themes or topics to explore, focusing especially on those which seem best suited to an Institute that is intrinsically interdisciplinary and cross-generational in nature.

These (and related) issues will be addressed in a variety of ways in close consultation with members of the Harvard faculty and others within the Radcliffe Institute and the larger University. But it seems particularly important to draw on the ideas and expertise of selected individuals who have had some substantial direct involvement with institutes, or similar organizations, committed to advanced studies, and who are therefore in a position to offer us the benefit of their various perspectives.

Our hope is that the work of this ad hoc committee can be completed by December or January of the coming academic (autumn) term, so that its advice – as well as that from other sources – will be available to Dean-elect Faust when she begins full time in January 2001.

I would like to close by saying – what I have expressed before – that I believe we are exceptionally fortunate in having Drew Faust to lead the Institute, building upon the strong foundation already created – with such energy and wisdom – by Mary Maples Dunn. Dean-elect Faust has, among her many academic and human qualities, a genuine and natural capacity for listening carefully and seeking advice thoughtfully, in order to act effectively. The future of the Institute is very bright indeed, and I want to thank everyone for helping to have brought this significant undertaking so far, in so short a time. I also want to assure everyone of my own strong personal commitment – as well as Harvard’s institutional commitment – to this challenging and exciting venture.


Neil L. Rudenstine

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Ad Hoc Committee

(confirmed membership as of 7/5/00)Caroline BynumUniversity Professor (History), Columbia University; Radcliffe Class of Ô62W. Robert ConnorPresident and Director, National Center for the Humanities (North Carolina)John DÕArmsPresident, American Council of Learned Societies (NYC)Wendy DonigerMircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, The Divinity School, University of Chicago; Radcliffe Class of Ô62Phillip GriffithsDirector, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ)Ellen LagemannPresident-elect, The Spencer Foundation (Chicago); Professor of History and Education, School of Education, New York UniversityCarolyn MakinsonProgram Officer, Mellon Foundation (NYC)Frank RhodesPresident Emeritus, Cornell UniversityNeil SmelserDirector, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, CA)Alison RichardProvost and Crosby Professor (Anthropology), Yale UniversityShirley TilghmanProfessor of Molecular Biology, Prior Professor in Life Sciences, Princeton University; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical InstituteWinifred White NeisserSr. Vice-President of Movies for Television and Mini-Series, Columbia Tristar Television; former Overseer, Harvard; Harvard Class of Ô74