He could survive the Clinton Administration, but not Harvard’s Faculty. His letter of resignation begins:
President Lawrence H. Summers
February 21, 2006
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
I have notified the Harvard Corporation that I will resign as President of the University as of June 30, 2006. Working closely with all parts of the Harvard community, and especially with our remarkable students, has been one of the great joys of my professional life. However, I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard’s future. I believe, therefore, that it is best for the University to have new leadership.
The letter continues on to review Summers’ initiatives and his hopes for the university, but he was beaten down by the faculty.
The search committee will be under enormous pressure to recruit a high profile woman or minority to replace the interim president –who once was the president– Derrick Bok. No matter who gets the nod there will always be the sense that Harvard’s elite drove off the sort of leader who could have helped the university build on its many poast successes in dramatic ways.
Expect a weak successor.