Faculty Debate How To Best Use Bully Pulpit
After the selection of Lawrence H. Summers to be Harvard's next President, professors on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) say they anticipate that a man used to the national stage would remain a high-profile figure during his stay in Massachusetts Hall, a sharp contrast to soft-spoken current President Neil L. Rudenstine.
But they disagree as to how much Summers should emphasize his public role. While some praise the selection of a president who may conspicuously advocate at least an educational agenda, dissenters fear that Summers' track record in government and the global economy may mean undergraduate education will be left on the back burner.
"There's a difference between being president of the university and being a public intellectual," said Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology Theda Skocpol, "and I'm sure he will need to think about that."
Many professors say they look forward to Summers making an impact on the national scene, hoping that where issues of education are concerned,
Many professors look forward to Summers contributing to national political discourse, especially in the realm of education.
"It's very good to have a president who can speak out on major national issues," said Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney H. Verba '53 . "Neil Rudenstine was an academic whose whole career, except for a few years, had been within universities. [Summers] may be more of an outspoken figure, and that would be to the good."
"I had hoped that the new president would be a person who would be a spokesman outside the academy as well as inside it for key educational issues," echoed English Department Chair Lawrence Buell, "Larry Summers has not hesitated to take a strong position in public forums...The higher education community lacks leadership of that sort."
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