Board Member's Letter of Resignation
New York Times
August 2, 2005
Following are excerpts from a letter on July 14 to Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard, from Conrad K. Harper, a member of the Harvard Corporation, the seven-member governing board of the university:
My five years on the corporation have been a highlight of my working life. ... For the reasons that follow, however, I hereby resign, with a heavy heart, as a member of the corporation, effective immediately. ...
Your presidency has been marked by a number of considerable successes. Yet, as I said during our meeting last month, my dissatisfaction with your performance as president has increased. I appreciate the fact that you and I had an hour and a half of frank talk. I had hoped that the unfortunate incident with Professor Cornel West was an aberration. Last fall, your comments at a Native American conference insulted the attendees. Last January, your insinuation at a N.B.E.R. conference that women might be inferior as to intrinsic aptitude for science and engineering was an insult heard worldwide. I saw a pattern. Your statements demeaned those who are underrepresented at the top levels of major research universities.
Added to this pattern were faculty grievances that led to the March 15, 2005, F.A.S. stunning vote of ... no confidence in your leadership. On March 17, I told you and the other members of the corporation that I thought you should resign, effective June 30.
While I thought it was important to join in the corporation's repeated statements of full confidence and support in your working constructively with faculty members and others, the situation has now changed significantly. Matters came to a head for me over whether the corporation should raise your salary for 2005-06. In my judgment, your 2004-05 conduct, implicating, as it does, profound issues of temperament and judgment, merits no increase whatever. Despite your apologies and your creation of important task forces chaired by Professors Groz and Hammonds (whose work I applaud), I could not and cannot support a raise in your salary. I believe that Harvard's best interests require your resignation.