Speculation Continues to Swirl About Who Will Be the Next President of Harvard University

Who finally wins the Harvard presidency will have a critical effect on black educational opportunities throughout the nation. Should Harvard in the future abandon or cut back on affirmative action, so will scores of other important educational institutions in our country. If Harvard, under its new president, ceases to attract and actively recruit black faculty, similar policies will be followed by other highly ranked colleges. If Harvard abandons or dilutes its famed black studies effort, other colleges and universities will undoubtedly follow suit. And what policies Harvard sets in place will largely be determined by the racial attitudes of its next president.

So it remains important to black Americans to follow the progress of the process of selecting the next president of Harvard University. Most of the people who have been identified as top candidates for the job are unwilling to talk about the matter.

Brown University president Ruth Simmons, considered a leading candidate for the job, put out a statement saying, “The president’s office declines to comment on any speculation about leadership issues at Harvard.” Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, simply told the Daily Pennsylvanian, “I plan to be here for the foreseeable future.” Other leading contenders including Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law School, and Drew Gilpin Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, have been unavailable for comment.

Nannerl O. Keohane, former president of Duke University who now teaches at Princeton, took herself out of the running saying simply, “I am not available. I want to tell people to please stop putting me on the lists of potential candidates.”