To The Editors:
I am currently a JD/MBA student in the class of 2006. I also graduated Harvard College in 2000. So I have spent seven years at this University and want to express my discomfort about the attacks on President Summers. With regards to his recent comments and relationship with the faculty, I only know what I’ve read in the press. And what I’ve read, I’ve found to be deeply troubling. Still there are many reasons that President Summers deserves support.
Ever since his arrival, he has been an active campus presence. Summers has encouraged each member of the community to work harder and to think more deeply. He has attacked grade inflation, rededicated the University to the teaching of science and math, and discussed updating the core curriculum. He has encouraged study abroad by undergraduates, a practice made difficult in my undergraduate time and from which I would have benefited. Across the campus he has pushed for open debate and critical thinking. He led a case discussion in one of my first year HBS classes in which he challenged both students and professors to reconsider their assumptions. He placed the law school under the leadership of Elena Kagan, for which, I believe, every single law student is thankful. He has also challenged the entire Ivy League by discussing openly the under representation of lower-income students on campus and by putting Harvard’s money where his mouth is, in granting full tuition to undergraduate students from families that earn under $40,000 a year.
HBS teaches that change is complicated and transitions are difficult, especially in institutions with entrenched customs and norms. But change is also necessary to revitalize organizations. In considering President Summers’ future, it is important that we as a community recognize the positive impact he has had on our campus.