Lawrence H. Summers, who until recently served as assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the White House National Economic Council (NEC), returns to Harvard University this month. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University, will be based at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), where he taught prior to taking a public service leave of absence in early 2009. His teaching and research will focus on the implications of changes in the global economy for public policy.
As director of the NEC, Summers served as the chief White House adviser to the president on the development and implementation of economic policy, led the president’s daily economic briefing, and coordinated the interagency policy process. Commenting on Summers’ departure, President Obama said, “I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry’s brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team. Over the past two years, he has helped guide us from the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s to renewed growth. And while we have much work ahead to repair the damage done by the recession, we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry’s wise counsel.”
Summers previously served as the 27th president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Prior to that, he played a central role on President Clinton’s economic team throughout the Clinton administration serving as secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1999 to 2001, after having served as deputy treasury secretary and as undersecretary for international affairs. Summers also served as chief economist of the World Bank from 1991 to 1993.
Summers was among the youngest professors in Harvard’s recent history when first appointed in 1983. He was the recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to an outstanding American economist under the age of 40, and the only social scientist who has received the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, recognizing outstanding scientific achievement. He is author or editor of several books and more than a hundred scholarly articles on economic development, financial markets, national savings policy, taxation, and unemployment, among other topics.
Upon his return to Harvard Kennedy School Summers will also lead the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG), serving as the Frank and Denie Weil Director. M-RCBG is the school’s hub for academic scholarship, research and teaching focused on critical policy issues that engage both the public and private sectors.