Harvard president to face meeting of critical faculty

Remarks about women have stirred controversy

February 22, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Harvard President Lawrence Summers goes back into the lions' den today.

When he faces hundreds of restive professors in an emergency meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he will be pilloried as an arrogant, incompetent despot and hailed as a champion of free speech victimized by liberal "thought police."

The session has been moved to a larger hall to accommodate an expected overflow crowd, after a similar session last Tuesday left professors sitting on the floor and crowded into doorways.

Some professors have been calling for a vote of no confidence in Summers, but parliamentary procedure might prevent such a vote at the session, senior faculty members said.

Any no-confidence vote would be largely symbolic. The seven-member governing corporation that selects Harvard's president said late last week that it fully supports Summers.

Summers is one of the members of the corporation, as is his mentor, former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin.

The current Summers imbroglio, the latest in a series of controversies in Summers' 3 1/2 -year tenure, was triggered by comments he made last month suggesting that innate gender differences might be responsible for the small number of women in top science and engineering positions.

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