Campus & Community

Letter to the Harvard community from President Summers

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Harvard University

Office of the President
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

February 28, 2002

Dear Members of the Faculty, Students, and Staff,

I write to solicit your advice in regard to the search for a new Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. This is obviously an appointment of great significance, and I am eager to have your candid views.

In various settings I have underscored how much the University’s vitality depends on the strength of our Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which plays so central a role in both undergraduate and graduate education and in the pursuit of new knowledge across the scholarly domains. Now, as this search begins, I would greatly value your advice on the particular opportunities and challenges facing the FAS in the time ahead, and what they imply for the priorities the Faculty and its next Dean should most wish to pursue. I also encourage you to convey your thoughts about the qualities most important to seek in the next Dean, and about any individuals you believe should receive serious consideration for the position. You may write to me, in confidence, at the above address or by e-mail to I expect to learn a great deal from the communications I receive, and I hope to hear from as many of you as are willing to write.

An advisory group of senior faculty members from diverse disciplines will meet with me and Provost Steve Hyman several times this spring to provide counsel on the search. They are: Jorge Dominguez, Catherine Dulac, Daniel Fisher, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Stephen Greenblatt, Benedict Gross, Douglas Melton, Thomas Scanlon, Daniel Schacter, Maria Tatar, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Sidney Verba, and Mary Waters. Two members of my office, Clayton Spencer and Marc Goodheart, will assist in staffing the search.

In addition to the advisory group, I plan to meet with various groups of senior and junior faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff in order to gain the benefit of other important perspectives. I will do my best to connect with numerous individuals and groups in person, but inevitably I will not have the opportunity to speak personally with everyone. I therefore urge you to send me your thoughts, which I assure you will be considered with care.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you in advance for your thoughtful attention.


Lawrence H. Summers