Lawrence H. Summers to Resume Teaching and Academic Research at Harvard Kennedy School

Contact: Melodie Jackson
Phone: 617-495-1115
Date: January 04, 2011

Will also lead the Mossavar-Rahmani
Center for Business and Government

Cambridge, MA – Lawrence H. Summers, who until recently served as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the White House National Economic Council (NEC) returns to Harvard University this month. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University, will be based at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), where he taught prior to taking a public service leave of absence in early 2009. His teaching and research will focus on the implications of changes in the global economy for public policy.

As director of the NEC, Summers served as the chief White House advisor to the president on the development and implementation of economic policy, led the president’s daily economic briefing, and coordinated the interagency policy process. Commenting on Summers’ departure, President Obama said, “I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry’s brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team. Over the past two years, he has helped guide us from the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s to renewed growth. And while we have much work ahead to repair the damage done by the recession, we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry’s wise counsel.”

Summers previously served as the 27th president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Prior to that, he played a central role on President Clinton’s economic team throughout the Clinton administration serving as Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1999 to 2001, after having served as deputy treasury secretary and as undersecretary for international affairs. Summers also served as chief economist of the World Bank from 1991 to 1993.

Summers was among the youngest professors in Harvard’s recent history when first appointed in 1983. He was the recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to an outstanding American economist under the age of 40, and the only social scientist who has received the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, recognizing outstanding scientific achievement. He is author or editor of several books and more than a hundred scholarly articles on economic development, financial markets, national savings policy, taxation, and unemployment, among other topics.

Upon his return to Harvard Kennedy School Summers will also lead the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government(M-RCBG), serving as the Frank and Denie Weil Director. M-RCBG is the school’s hub for academic scholarship, research and teaching focused on critical policy issues that engage both the public and private sectors. Summers will succeed Roger B. Porter, IBM professor of business and government, who has served a second stint as the center’s director with great distinction since July 2008. Serving as center co-director will be HKS Executive Dean John A. Haigh, who will continue managing the operations of the school while also helping Summers set the strategic direction of M-RCBG with a portion of his time.

“We are very pleased to have Larry back at the Kennedy School and that he will lead the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at such a critical time,” said Dean David T. Ellwood. “Nearly all of the most important public challenges and opportunities cross the boundaries between business and government. Larry brings an extraordinary combination of leadership and experience at the heart of the intersection of business, government, and scholarship, having served in critical positions during strong economic times and economic crises, and having played a central role in exploring and determining the relationship between the public and private sectors. We look forward to his many contributions at the center, in the classroom, and to the nation and the world at a vital and still-turbulent time.”

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve in the White House for the last two critical years. Now with the economy stabilizing, I look forward to the opportunity to think, write and teach about some of the critical economic challenges we face taking a longer view than is possible in a position with day-to-day policy responsibility,” said Summers. “The shock of the financial crisis, the shifts in the distribution of global economic power, and the changes being brought about by information technology combine to make this an unusually important moment to reexamine traditional assumptions about economic policy in the United States and beyond. I am especially excited by the prospect of working with some of the most able students in the world at such a critical time.”

Haigh, who is a graduate of HKS, was appointed executive dean in 2005 following a distinguished career in the private sector. Prior to HKS, he served as partner at Mercer Management Consulting, focusing on strategic issues in multiple industries, and more recently at AT&T, where he held a variety of leadership positions including president of AT&T’s International Ventures and later as Senior Vice President for Emerging Initiatives at AT&T Wireless.

“John Haigh is an exceptional leader and manager who has helped the Kennedy School run effectively and smoothly over the past six years,” said Dean Ellwood. “His extensive background in the private sector combined with his understanding of public policy will be a great addition to M-RCBG’s leadership team. I am pleased that he has agreed to take on these additional responsibilities at an important moment for us.”

“We are very pleased with the announcement and excited that M-RCBG is so well positioned to engage both vigorously and rigorously with ideas and people in pursuit of its mission in the years ahead,” said Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani.

Established in 1982, the Center for Business and Government seeks to advance the state of knowledge and policy analysis concerning some of society’s most challenging problems at the interface of the public and private sectors. M-RCBG includes programs on energy policy, environmental economics, global climate change, corporate social responsibility, business and human rights, collaborative governance and education policy. Thirty-five faculty members are affiliated with the center along with 30 research fellows and visitors studying a wide array of policy issues and producing dozens of working papers and reports annually. The center hosted more than 60 seminars and events in 2010. In the months ahead, it will add a new focus on the implications of the rise of emerging markets for traditional relationships between business and government and will serve as a source of additional engagement for students in the joint Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School master’s program.



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