The search committee that ultimately chose Lawrence Summers as the 27th president of Harvard University originally considered hundreds of candidates for the job. One of those charged with narrowing this substantial pool was Conrad Harper ’65–the only HLS graduate on the presidential search committee. Harper is also a member of the seven-person Harvard Corporation, which formally elects the new president following the search process.
According to Harper, the search committee first pared down the original list to 30 prospects. Then in January, the committee focused on nine people. With Secretary to the Corporation Marc Goodheart ’85 handling much of the logistics, Harper and the other members of the search committee held an extensive round of meetings, consultations, and interviews, some of which took them on the road. In addition to interacting with Harvard faculty, students, and administrators, the committee consulted leading academics around the country, Harper noted.
After nearly nine months of work, on Sunday, March 11, Summers was formally elected by the Harvard Corporation, with the consent of the Harvard Board of Overseers, the University’s other governing board. “At this point, I have a sense that I know Larry Summers very well,” Harper said. “He’s going to be a splendid president.”
The day after his appointment, Summers met with the deans of Harvard’s schools and faculties, including HLS Dean Robert Clark ’72. Noting the Law School’s current strategic planning effort, Clark said, “Because the University must engage in ambitious and intelligent planning for the future, we need a president with vision and the ability to make big things happen. I believe President Summers will do this and more.”