Donald Rumsfeld has thanked Lawrence Summers in a nice letter for his support of ROTC at Harvard. Well, there are very many other things that President Summers must be thanked for, and there are many other institutions and people who are going to thank.
The City of Boston and the Reference Frame is clearly two of them.
During Summers' tenure, Harvard never lost to Yale. Ambitious steps for distant future in Allston have been sketched and initiated - something that most people only care about hypothetically. Sciences have been morally supported and their teaching was strengthened. Harvard has just started steps to become the first institution in the world that will clone human embryos. While it is a controversial decision, it is clearly a decision of the humankind that can't be postponed indefinitely, and the leading scientific institutions in this field are going to be important.
Undergraduate students have had a president who cared about their experience, the quality of their education, and about their future. In fact, Summers is another 2006 graduate. Professors have had someone who reminded them what is important in the scholars' work - something that you don't always want to hear, especially if things are not going too well - but who also provided them with a source of pride about their institution, partially represented by its leader, which is an important motivation.
Summers is arguably the last president of a U.S. university who is more than just a politically correct puppet - puppets who earn about half a million dollars a year for not making anyone upset, especially not the hard Left. He is also the president with the brightest academic credentials.
President Summers has advocated undergraduate courses focusing on actual universally important content as opposed to nonsensical postmodern politically biased overspecialized idiosyncratic misinterpretations of unimportant social questions which is the way how many of our humanity colleagues are not only imagining the ideal education system but how they're also practising it.
He has taught us not to be intimidated by those who find the search for the truth inconvenient and he has brought some badly needed testosterone to Harvard. He has been a symbol of Harvard University that belongs to America and works for America - and beyond, as opposed to Harvard University that is largely hostile to things that are normally included in the word "America".
Also, he has doubly signed banknotes for many of us - banknotes that used to have twice as high value in the Czech crowns when he signed them for the first time and when he was in charge of them, but I don't want to overwhelm you with additional troubles of my life. ;-) Clearly, a strong dollar policy has been and is a good policy for America and the rest of the world. The U.S. administration should realize that the existing healthy economy is not enough for the U.S. citizens' confidence that everything is fine: a strong currency might be psychologically necessary, too, and it has also other, non-psychological advantages. Hank Paulson '70 should sell his Goldman Sachs stocks - whose profit he doubled - and work on the restoration of the confidence.
When we return to Harvard, Summers has also defended healthy contacts with natural academic partners and traditional U.S. allies such as Israel, and intellectual diversity at the university. He was one of the main people who made Harvard more welcoming for various groups of people, including foreign students, American Christians, American students who work for the military, and rightwingers in general - who are otherwise as welcome as the Jews in Germany of 1932 - and he opposed pernicious forms of discrimination including affirmative action as strongly as he was realistically allowed by the actual atmosphere at Harvard.
His management of Harvard's resources has been excellent, and his own contributions to the picture of Harvard as a place where people are actually thinking as opposed to parroting intellectually deteriorated political dogmas of the hard Left has definitely been positive for Harvard's image among most people whose opinions are found to be relevant by The Reference Frame.
It will be extremely difficult for any next president to match Summers, and you should not be surprised that some people expect that many things can simply go even more wrong afterwards - especially because we know that they were already going in a wrong direction when Summers was effectively separated from actual influence on the intellectual atmosphere at Harvard. Everyone will see what will happen, but one thing can already be said now:
Thank you, Mr. President.