February 10, 2006

Harvard’s Summers faces new no-confidence vote

BOSTON (Reuters) - Harvard University President Lawrence
Summers will soon face an unprecedented second vote of no
confidence by the Ivy League school's undergraduate faculty a
year after he was censured over his comments on women.

The largely symbolic motion on the agenda of a meeting of
the faculty of arts and sciences on February 28 follows
lingering concern among some professors over the former U.S.
Treasury secretary's general leadership.

Summers, whose abrupt style has won praise and contempt
since he became president in 2001, 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.

But the abrupt resignation of the arts and sciences dean,
William Kirby, on January 27 is stoking fresh controversy.
Several faculty have accused Summers of pushing Kirby out and
called for his resignation at a faculty meeting this week.

The confidence vote will be symbolic because undergraduate
faculty represent one of only 10 schools at Harvard, and have
no say over hiring or firing of the president. That
responsibility falls to a seven-member board that has so far
stood by Summers.

Judith Ryan, a Harvard professor of German and comparative
literature who is also a faculty council member, confirmed the
motion in an e-mail to Reuters on Friday.

Summers would be the first Harvard president to face two
votes of no confidence by undergraduate faculty at the oldest
U.S. university.

Summers also was embroiled in a public feud with the
African-American Studies department that erupted shortly after
he became president. The once-vaunted department has seen an
exodus of top faculty.

Summers' spokesman, John Longbrake, said he declined to
comment on the upcoming vote. He has also not publicly
commented on Kirby's resignation.