Dennis Thompson, Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy and former associate provost, was appointed senior adviser to the president by President Lawrence H. Summers, Summers announced Wednesday (Dec. 12). In this new part-time position, Thompson will work closely with Summers and Provost Steven Hyman on university-wide policies and priorities. Among his principal responsibilities will be chairing the University’s physical planning committee, working closely with the provost to insure that physical planning is considered in the broader context of the academic planning process.
“Dennis’ counsel has been invaluable to me since I arrived here in July and so I am very pleased that he has agreed to serve in this new role,” said Summers. “His astute advice, extensive knowledge of Harvard, and good judgment on matters important to faculty members will be a great asset as we tackle the many challenges and opportunities that face the University and higher education.”
Thompson, the founding director of Harvard’s Center for Ethics and Professions, has served as associate provost since 1996 and acted as provost this summer and fall.
“The academic agenda Larry Summers has laid out is impressive – practically grounded and intellectually inspiring at the same time,” Thompson said. “I welcome the chance to work with him and our new provost in promoting Harvard’s educational goals across all the faculties.”
Thompson will lead a newly constituted University committee that will carry forward planning for Allston and measure its effect on the Cambridge campus.
Thompson, a leading scholar of democratic political theory, led the University through major administrative challenges and initiatives as associate provost. He chaired the committee that revised Harvard’s policy on intellectual property and led the advisory group that developed the new policy on faculty consulting and teaching on the Internet. He was the principal author of Harvard’s recently adopted policy on the University’s relationship with outside commercial enterprises. Thompson also played an important role in the negotiations that led to the creation of the Radcliffe Insititute for Advanced Study.
Thompson holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He taught at Princeton University for 18 years before returning to Harvard in 1986. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as classes and seminars in five other faculties of the University.