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Harvard Faculty Votes “Lack of Confidence” in President

In an unprecedented vote on Tuesday, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted 218-185 to approve a motion expressing a “lack of confidence” in Harvard president Lawrence Summers. A second motion offering a milder rebuke of Summer’s comments and “managerial style” was also passed 253 to 137, with 18 abstentions, reports the Associated Press.

Summers has been under fire from women’s groups, women scientists, and Harvard faculty members after a speech he gave in which he suggested that women may have less innate ability for math and science than men. J. Lorand Matory, the professor of anthropology and African and African-American Studies who submitted the motion for a vote of no confidence, said that he had only expected about 30 percent of the voters to support his motion, according to the Boston Globe. “This was a resounding statement the faculty lacks confidence in President Lawrence Summers and he should resign,” said Matory. “There is no noble alternative to resignation,” reports the Associated Press.

Summers officially answers only to the university’s governing body, the Harvard Corporation, which has expressed its support for Summers. Tuesday’s vote marked the third meeting Summers has had with the arts and sciences faculty since the controversy began in January. Since then, he has also implemented two task forces to examine the hiring practices of Harvard, as well as how the university cultivates women faculty members. “I have done my best these last two months to hear all that has been said, to think hard, to learn, and to adjust,” Summers asserted to reporters amidst protesters after the vote. “I will continue to do that,” reports the Associated Press.

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Sources:

Associated Press 3/15/05, Boston Globe 3/16/05, Chicago Tribune 3/16/05, Feminist Daily News Wire 1/24/05