Thursday, March 01, 2007

Harvard Chooses Female Head

It only took 371 years, 27 previous presidents, and a LOT of coaxing, but Harvard finally has a woman as top banana.

Ms. Drew Faust, a Civil War historian, will take the place of discredited former head Lawrence Summers, who left as Harvard's head amid contentious relationships with faculty and after making controversial remarks about the inherent inability of women to do world-class research in the sciences.

With seven U.S. presidents as alumni, and over 40 Nobel Prize winners on its cumulative list of faculty members, Harvard occupies a singular place in the roster of great American universities, and Faust's appointment is sending a powerful shockwave throughout academia in this country and within the iconic institution itself.

From a recent Washington Post article:

"Harvard is making a statement at a critical time when we are seeing student bodies [at many schools] that are well over 50 percent women," said Claire van Ummersen, director of the Office of Women in Higher Education at the American Council on Education. "We see women faculty increasing in number, and the place where we have lagged most is in research institutions having women at the executive level. . . . Hopefully, this will have some influence on boards of trustees or overseers of other institutions."

Faust's selection comes as Harvard moves to modernize its more than 30-year-old undergraduate curriculum, a move that's being closely watched by institutes of higher education throughout the U.S.

Read the rest of the article here.

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