According to a Press Release from the Harvard University yesterday, Lawrence H Summers who had been President of the University between 2001 and 2006 is going to return to Harvard to resume teaching and academic research at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, after spending two years as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the White House National Economic Council (NEC).
Summers had been the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at the University and taught at the Kennedy School prior to taking a public service leave of absence in early 2009. In his renewed stint at the School, he will now focus on the policy implications arising from the financial crisis, the shifts in the distribution of global economic power, and the advances made in information technology.
Harvard has also revealed that Summers will be taking charge of the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG), serving as the Frank and Denie Weil Director. He will be succeeding Roger Porter, IBM professor of business and government at the M-RCBG - the school's hub for academic scholarship, research and teaching focused on critical policy issues at the interface of the public and private sectors. The Center will be co-directed by John Haigh, executive dean of the Kennedy School.
Summers' career with Harvard began in 1983 when he became one of the youngest to be appointed in Harvard's recent history. 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.
Meanwhile, at the White House President Barack Obama is expected to announce a replacement for Summers any time this week. The latter's return to academics has opened up a huge vacuum in the administration and leaves a crucial decision to be made, as the economy remains at the forefront of the President's concerns. With unemployment showing little signs of abatement and the private sector struggling under a feeble recovery, the performance of the new appointee will be critical in Obama's 2012 bid for re-election. Earlier, speaking on Summers' departure, the President hailed him as a man of brilliance, experience and judgment and conceded that though a lot of work remains to be done to repair the damages brought about by recession, the economy was on a more likely track towards that, thanks in no small measure to Larry's wise counsel.