Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Summers resigns Harvard presidency

Larry Summers has resigned as president of Harvard.

The resignation caps an increasingly rancorous stand-off between Summers and disaffected Harvard staff and came just one week before faculty members were to vote in the second no-confidence motion against Summers in 11 months. Summers, whose brusque management style has won both praise and contempt, sparked controversy last year when he said innate differences between men and women may help explain why so few women work in the academic sciences.

He has since apologized repeatedly for his remarks.

"The university has been in a state of paralysis. I've never seen anything like this before," Farish A. Jenkins Jr., a Harvard zoology professor, told Reuters.

Summers' resignation letter says:

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. ... At a time when the median age of our tenured professoriate is approaching 60, the renewal of the faculty has to be a central concern. ... We cannot maintain pre-eminence in intellectual fields if we remain constrained by artificial boundaries of departments and Schools. "Each Tub On Its Own Bottom" is a vivid, but limiting, metaphor for decision making at Harvard. We will not escape its limits unless our Schools and Faculties increase their willingness to transcend parochial interests in support of broader university goals.


I tuned into http://www.wbz.com/ on the advice of a Boston area alum. There's an interview with Summers and Alan Dershowitz. If you listen to Summers you get the sense that despite the bland press release he had been involved in the equivalent of a knock-down, drag-em out academic fight. Alan Dershowitz said (my recollection) 'most of the faculty, students and alumni supported Summers. This is a coup de etat (Dershowitz's exact words) by a small group within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences'.

More from The Harvard Crimson

Summers ultimately fell to mounting pressure from members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences calling for his resignation. They had assailed his leadership style as well as the resignation of Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby and his handling of the government fraud scandal implicating Jones Professor of Economics Andrei Shleifer '82.

In a statement made outside his Mass. Hall office earlier this afternoon, Summers addressed a group of about 150 people, which included a group of student supporters who chanted, "Stay, Larry, stay," and "Five more years."

"This has not been a simple day in my life," Summers told the crowd, many of whom reached out to shake his hand.

"Harvard's greatest days are in the future," he added.

Summers had been slated to face a no-confidence vote at next Tuesday's meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in addition to a motion asking Harvard's governing boards to intervene in the conflict. Summers lost a similar no-confidence vote last March 218-185.

The Harvard Crimson News Poll By 3-to-1 Margin Undergraduates Say They Don't Want Summers To Resign


Free speech is under increasing attack. One would have thought that newspaper caricaturists, professional historians and the president of the richest university in the world could express an opinion. The Mohammed cartoons, David Irving and Lawrence Summers show that even traditional opinion-makers, people whose stock-in-trade are ideas, must watch their back.


Blogger Unknown said...

If you're not prepared to defend your opinion, then maybe your opinion is not worth defending.

/Self confessed bigot.

2/21/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

We live in an age where non-toleration of evil and abominable things will get you prison time.

It's the world turned up-side-down.

If you have any moral stance, you'd better be ready to defend it while being shouted down by the PC left.

opotho posted an old-French origin of the word several threads back. It's the first I had known of the probable origin of the word. Modern negative connotations aside; I have to plead guilty myself. In fact, my surname is Norman!!

2/21/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

I may as well have a big target on my back that says WASP BIGOT.

A lesser person would be defeated with the state of it all. HAH!

2/21/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jesse Clark said...

I'm with Mika; if you're gonna throw these 'radical ideas' out there you need to back them up with evidence or, failing that, a well-reasoned argument.

Of course, both of those can be hard to hear over the noise of angry villagers with torches and pitchforks on their way to run you out of town.

2/21/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ed onWestSlope said...

I tend to agree with mika, Mr. Summers should have gone down in a more vocal manner.

I will give in to temptation and be very blunt.

The 'commen folk', those who do the work of any society, tend to look at the ones that Mr. Summers offended, shake their heads and mutter IDIOTS.

My readings indicate that these offended ones are usually among the first to swing from the gallows when a real nasty revolution occurs. Unfortunately, some good have gotten mixed in with the bad.

Now, our challenge in a civil society is to deal with these offended ones. Sometimes, revealing their foolishness in a crass manner is about all we are left with. 'SIGH'

2/21/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sir Norman, any term of abuse coming from the French I would take as a compliment. :)

2/21/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That's not fair! If you're all going to agree with me who am I going to argue with?!

2/21/2006 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/21/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...


The name is actually a French label for Vikings. I don't believe there was ever any love for them there.

Too bad about Summers going down though. Another good man defeated by the ankle biters.

These institutions once were where the best and brightest minds were welcomed. PC ideology trumps all now.

2/21/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal said...

V E R I T A S.

A tough motto to live up to in this post modern era Wretchard. I've little doubt at how you're ashamed of your alma mater.

I lost confidence in mine many years ago, and it's much nearer the heartland. Its liberal arts core (immodestly calling itself the Harvard of the Midwest) always had an inferiority problem. It couldn't wait to outstrip Harvard in its march Left. In that way it thought itself more Progressive.

So it was not surprising to me that it became much more unhinged as its influence and prestige slipped, never more so than in the eyes of its own alumni.

For myself, it was especially disgusting to watch the hard science departments knuckle-under to the nutty Left's agenda.

It is indeed troubling, Mika and Jesse, at how Larry Summers went down not with a bang but with a whimper. The question I pose to the members of the Belmont Club is: Why isn't this what we should expect as all our institutions go down the drain?

2/21/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

I was trying to find a good quote and realized it was too hard to choose just one. I apologize in advace for linking not typing.


I think I understand the people alive in 1938 much better, they did not see ahead as well as I see back.

2/21/2006 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Don't be so hard on Summers yet. As per the local area Boston radio stations it was a slam-bang fight. Dershowitz calls it a coup de etat.

2/21/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

Political Correctness should be considered a Psychiatric disorder since it destroys the ability to think critically.
Summers was finished the moment he apolgized. Make a note: Appeasement never works.
And Arthur Dent, how about a quote from Orwell: Some ideas are so preposterous only an intellectual could believe them.

2/21/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

"And if the great are cowed can the small rest easy?"

The small will in the end save their ass, as usual.

The 'great' will turn to the small, as in the past, after the 'great' have made an indescribable mess, and the influence of the 'great' will be exerted to the maximum to explain to the 'little people' that it is now up to them to fight to extricate the country from the mess it is in, which is in addition somehow their fault.

And the 'little people' will in fact when the time comes climb into the saddle and get the job done. After which the 'great' and the 'clever' will once again push them aside and take on the onerous task of explaining round the clock that this is really their own achievement, etc.

Plus ca change...

2/21/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal said...

This is a coup de etat (Dershowitz's exact words) by a small group within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences'.

This begs more illumination Wretchard. Is "Summer Resigns" part II far off?
What may we learn from this episode?

2/21/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

> This is a coup de etat (Dershowitz's exact words) by a small group within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences'.

Will someone explain why that small group has such leverage?

2/21/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...


I had a salesman whom I considered an unacceptional talent. Yet he had all the fundamental qualities I sought. He was reliable, cinsistent, unpretentious, hard working (to a point) and always accountable for himself and for the company when before his customers. And they loved him for these qualities.

At a review session he admitted that he knew his limitations and was really suprised by his successes.

These are the qualities we need in our leaders. They don't have to be the smartest, best educated, best looking, etc.

We need leaders, at every level, with chests (from C S Lewis). We need leaders in whom we can place our trust and in return we need to reinforce and be loyal to that trust.

These leaders are out there. We just need to recognize and support them.

2/21/2006 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


My guess is that due to the University structure they would filibuster or hang things up for as long as Summers was in charge. Right now Harvard is engaged in a major new expansion. They've practically bought out the town of Allston and are engaging in huge development. Summers had to get that show and other university reforms on the road. Just my guess, but I'm keeping my ear to the ground.

If there are any Harvard people out there who really know, please chime in.

2/21/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

KILL THE JEWS!!! "Just a metaphor..."

S.R. Sudah, October 2, 2002 at 17:35 indicted Edward Said with the following comment "But among other things, in a rambling and hysterical attack, Said mentions Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers as being a Jew. Now Said must know the implications of naming someone a Jew, in the context of an Arab readership."

Yep, get rid of those UN-PC jews, after all at 1st at harvard, they dared to want to attend in greater numbers than their fair share of the population, how dare they think they should be allowed to RUN harvard...

I got my yellow stars back from the tailor yesterday, they now come with velcro so I can switch to what ever clothes I am wearing!

2/21/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


You've joined the wrong religion. Join us Cannibals.

2/21/2006 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Appeasement is the policy of a man that feeds the alligator, hoping that the alligator will eat him last. It'd be interesting to find out if Mr. Summers will end up sporting alligator boots.

2/21/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Let them go into the darkness, let them lesrn about the things there. Let them go. Let them go.


2/21/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"I tend to agree with mika, Mr. Summers should have gone down in a more vocal manner."

I think that the problem was that the idea that Summers got lynched for mentioning wasn't even a position that Summers himself held. He merely used it as an idea others have expressed, namely that the standard deviation for women in the hard sciences is narrower than that for men. As a result, although he was sane enough not to automatically blacklist the idea, he didn't want to be identified as someone defending it. Course, that he didn't even believe it was probably all the more reason to assert his right to say it without being burned at the stake.

2/21/2006 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Wow, lynch, blacklisted, and burned at the stake, all in one post.

That's gotta be worth 10 points.

2/21/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Harkonnendog said...

"And if the great are cowed can the small rest easy?"

It is probably easier to be willing to lose everything if you have less to lose. It is easier to pass through the eye of a needle and all that.

2/21/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

Wretchard, SBW, the cabal controlling Harvard are those whose seminal experience was protest. Protest the war, the draft, racism, sexism, capitalism, corporations. Keep the protest even though they've really already won their issues. We abandoned Vietnam, forced Nixon's resignation, and affirmative action has contorted every public institution. The most spoiled, indulged cohort in history gets its way or else throws a public tantrum. PC is what remains of their shrieking hissy fits. My ge- ge- ge- generation!

2/21/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Figured you'd run a thread on this.

Not really much to say, Man spoke possible truth to an idea that was Offensive, to some.
Now the Highway is his home.

Let that be a lesson to all you Blue State folk, NorEasters especially.

The Press self Censors in Boston, and debate's not allowed on the Harvaaard Yaard.

And to think I dumped on that Elite Opportunity, what now, 35 plus years ago.

Praise be.

2/21/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

What would Sam Adams say?
Firebrand that that Bostonian was.

Where did the Easterners with balls go?

They all have not moved here, to the West, have they?

2/21/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I think the folks knocking Summers are not aware of what he has been going through long before the Hysterical Female Crisis.

Dershowitz has some devastating commentary elsewhere from before, hope I, or someone has time to find it.
I never liked Dershowitz, but I am very impressed by his actions in this affair.

All those knocking Summers should be praising Dershowitz.

2/21/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wasn't it William Buckley who stated something like "I would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard". How prescient he was.

2/21/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

John B.,

Buckley was from Yale. But seriously, I've added an update. The Harvard Crimson did a poll. The student wants Lawrence to stay by a 3 to 1 margin.

2/21/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Just coincidentally, I happened to be looking for a Catherine Dobelle, involved in education, last night.
Never found her but found a bunch of links to Evan Dobelle, who the Univ of Hawaii spent millions on shipping him from Boston here to be President.

An ex-Jimmy Carter aide, one of his first acts was to support the Democrat Candidate for Guv, and then proceeded to trash our GOP Gov after she got elected.

His wife immediately started remodeling the President's house including custom brass faceplates and doorknobs to the tune of hundreds of thousands as he spent tens of thousands at a whack jetting his Boston cronies back and forth across the Pacific.

Even though he tried to use the same tactic he had used back in Boston, he was eventually fired.
(Tactic there was to be the standard bearer for the poor in the surrounding neighborhoods. Here he immediately latched on to the Native Hawaiian Movement as a cover for his incompetence and corruption)

...anyway, long story short, after being fired here, what did I find in the few links I followed last night but that Good Old Boy Dobelle was back in Boston getting paid to lecture people on
"Best Practices in Government!"

Is it the water, Fred or is 'Rat closer to the truth?

2/21/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry, Fred, had not read your post carefully when I posed that question!
(Course you sane ones might all be drinking bottled water!)

2/21/2006 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Summer's first Blasphemy was to suggest to some crackpot Black Studies "Expert" that he might want to do something academic in his free time not taken up by writing Rap Music.

It's been all downhill from there as these aging Hippies have been in full left-wing warmaking mode ever since.
(stabbing people in the back being the tactic of choice)

" ... At a time when the median age of our tenured professoriate is approaching 60, the renewal of the faculty has to be a central concern. ...

We cannot maintain pre-eminence in intellectual fields if we remain constrained by artificial boundaries of departments and Schools.

"Each Tub On Its Own Bottom" is a vivid, but limiting, metaphor for decision making at Harvard.

We will not escape its limits unless our Schools and Faculties increase their willingness to transcend parochial interests in support of broader university goals.
While that may be bland, it says a lot!
(and applies to the Democrat Party, also)

2/21/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Free West said...

Why aren't the feminists clamoring for equal rights for members of the Über-Faith (Islam)?

With all due respect (because I wish the feminists were allies in the struggle) -

Where are all the chanting, screaming ladies when it is in their own benefit to oppose an authoritarian Über-Faith which wants to enslave them ?

Are the feminists blind to the danger?

They would be its first victims.

2/21/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"Summer's first Blasphemy was to suggest to some crackpot Black Studies "Expert" that he might want to do something academic in his free time not taken up by writing Rap Music."

I've got a number of academic stories that I've basically held my tongue on, because who knows what can get back to school. Don't make a mess where you live, eh? Nevertheless, this story is too good to be true.

Doug, you might find it interesting to know that said Black Studies Expert spoke at my school a few weeks ago.

The next day I found myself sitting outside a certain office, holding a certain person who wields a good amount of influence in the university. This person and another were commenting on how said expert was popular because he "was controversial, but did not challenge the establishment." [! Leaving aside the question of whether they wanted him to throw actual bombs, they still haven't figured out they ARE the establishment.]

They then went on about how said expert had really said nothing for the $15,000 that he was paid, and that they would have said such pseudo-intellectual crap for $5,000 themselves. How much you want to bet these people would have been critical of Summers had they been caught up in the incident months ago when he basically said the same thing. Reality's a bitch.

2/21/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Fred 8:24 PM LOL!
And it REALLY heartens me to hear that today's generation is not buying into as much crap as mine did.
Thanks for that!

2/21/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Harvard has long been called the Kremlin on the Charles. Not for nothing, it turns out.

2/21/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

You'll also be intersted note that said Black Studies Expert was greeted by the university like Jesus reborn, in my cynical view because the school obviously has the almighty image problem due to a lack of diversity [aka melanin]. The newspaper, for example, used a full page spread on "why Cornel West matters," professors were telling everyone to attend, and flyers were all over the school. Like I said, you would have thought he was the Messiah, coming to clean us unwashed. This school might have held them off for a while, but the barbarians [commies] are definitely at the gates.

2/21/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Sounds like a job for Ward Churchill.

2/21/2006 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

To all,

I would say this is off topic, but in a broad sense it is very much on topic:

Gramscian Damage, Eric S. Raymond (via Instapundit)

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithetic. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

And so on. I thought you'd like to know.

2/21/2006 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


That was great...Thank you.


As a Yalie I would love to take a perverse pleasure in the downfall of Harvard, were I not certain that a similar rot is slowly eating away at the foundations of my own alma mater...

Jamie Irons

2/21/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cutler 8:47 PM - That's pretty pathetic that they are so hermetically removed that White Guilt or whatever it is (Elitist Anxiety Disorder?) played that much of a role.

We've got our work cut out for us:
The game is easier to debunk idea-wise than was communism in it's day, but they've got a larger infrastructure now and are in power throughout the educational establishment.
Wonder if the lower grades see through the junk as well as Fred's collegiate examples?
Back to college:
How many of your classmates are not sheep Cutler?

2/21/2006 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jamie 10:21 PM,
And the Hysterical Female that got a case of the vapors and had to leave after getting nauseous listening to Summers, is at MIT.

Much as Cornel West was given a free ride for being a properly "radical" Black, the lady's main claim to fame seems to be that she happened to be a lab assistant in the presence of Watson or Crick.

That and her EXTREME and extremely ridiculous "feminism."
Other than that, her resume looks like it's suffering from anorexia.
...but maybe it's just those attacks of the vapors that kept it so thin.
Upshot being that Summers encounters with two certifiable phonies led to his demise.

2/21/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

Summers is a liberal. This is where his ideology takes you. That he finds himself impaled upon it is not a bad thing. Whittaker Chambers made one point above all fifty years ago- liberalism, socialism, and communism are just one inseparable continuum. Welcolme to your own party, Lawrence.

2/21/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Whatever label one puts on Summers, he was more than a cut above the losers that led to his demise.

Quite a principled guy for taking a stand more than once for honesty in a field that goes out of it's way to hire human sponges.

And, liberal that he is, Dershowitz took a stand for academic freedom that many nomimal conservatives fear to take.

2/21/2006 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

And then there is the problem of impact.
Which matters more, a life lost or a life changed forever?
How many divisions does the Pope have, Stalin asked.

Yet an idea that changes lives can have more power than an army that takes them--which leaves Gutenberg presiding over the 15th century, Jefferson over the 18th.

Making body counts the ultimate measure of influence precludes the possibility of heroic sacrifice, a single death that inspires countless others to live their lives differently, a young man in front of a column of tanks near Tiananmen Square.

"Five hundred years from now, it won't be Hitler we remember," says theologian Martin Marty.
"Hitler may have set the century's agenda; he was a sort of vortex of negative energy that sucked everything else in.
But I think God takes fallible human beings like Roosevelt or Churchill and carves them for his purposes.
In five centuries, we'll look back and say the story of the century was not Hitler or Stalin; it was the survival of the human spirit in the face of genocide."
The Necessary Evil?
Why all Adolf Hitler is not Person of the Century

2/21/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Plot to attack Israeli cruise ships was financed by Taliban:

A Syrian with alleged links to Al-Qaeda who is suspected of plotting to attack Israeli cruise ships off the Turkish coast has said he was financed by the Taliban, a report said Tuesday.

The second suspect was detained Saturday while preparing to leave Turkey from a post on the Syrian border, police said.

Plot to Attack

2/21/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Doug, 10.31

Elitist Anxiety Disorder

That's pretty good. But it's begging for some tweaking. HOw about:

Elitist Anxious Tyrannical Mood Evocation

EATME - an expression of the nihilism and death-wish Dhimmitude at the heart of contemporary "liberalism", for the generation that only knows what it feels.

Now the root of the acronym could use some further tweaking, but i'm sure we could unleash EATME on the blogosphere and get it as mainstream as BDS.

2/22/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Cutler, friend, amuse us further: Why, sayeth your rag, does Cornell West matter?

2/22/2006 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Elitist Anxious Tyrannical Mood Evocation

EATME - an expression of the nihilism and death-wish Dhimmitude at the heart of contemporary "liberalism", for the generation that only knows what it feels.
I submit to you in eternal dhimmification oh Great One!
That Rules!

2/22/2006 01:23:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

4 decades ago, when I wrote an article for the FIRST underground newspaper in California, I didn't suppose it would all come to this!

Talk about butterflies and typhoons!

2/22/2006 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal said...

Doug 10:45 PM Upshot being that Summers encounters with two certifiable phonies led to his demise.

Yes, true Doug. But there's more to notice. It wasn't the simple gent and the distraught lady who did him in. It was others who used their discomfort as their motive to act. (Recalling badly Wretchard's observation: the hideous strength of the Left lays within their ability to claim to defend groups of the downtrodden, never individuals who are their real target, one.at.a.time.).

In order to defend those like Summers who battle within the beast, the tactic employed to remove him was, on a smaller scale, understandable using the social engineering model. Maybe, with your understanding added, it may become clearer.

2/22/2006 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Buckley may have been a Yale man but I'm sure that quote was about Harvard. From an article in the American Thinker:

"As William F. Buckley once said, he would rather be governed by the first 200 names from the Boston phone directory than any 200 Harvard faculty picked at random"


Whether the number was 100, 200 or more seems to be in dispute depending upon which source is checked. Funny, but I remember the general quote from the 1960's and it got filed away in my memory.

2/22/2006 07:26:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger