Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dr. Larry Summers, the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Dr. Gilpin Drew Faust

Time Magazine reports on Dr. Larry Summers, the former President of Harvard University, who is now head of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration. I remember meeting Dr. Summers, when he was President of Harvard, and the Fellows of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study were invited over his Presidential house in Cambridge, MA for dinner. I was a Science Fellow at Radcliffe that 2005-2006 year. That year, the comments made by Dr. Summers regarding women and math and science abilities, and the controversy that followed, had reached a head. Needless to say, at his house, a group of the Science Fellows, which included two female mathematicians and an engineer, stuck together, eagerly awaiting Dr. Summers' entrance. I will never forget how his entrance was made from the kitchen and as he shook our hands, a Fellow from Bordeaux, France, asked him whether it was "OK that we were mathematicians?" He smiled back.

That same year, Dr. Summers resigned as President of Harvard, and the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, made history and became the first female President of Harvard. Some reflections on that incredible year at Radcliffe, can be found in my essay.