You may vaguely recall that back in 2005, the President of Harvard, Larry Summers, the former Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary, made some uncontroversial remarks about how, although men and women have the same mean IQ, the male bell curves are fatter in the tails, which has implications for elite faculty gender balance. His speech was greeted with yawns since everybody in the public sphere in America had long before internalized all the implications of psychometric research, as symbolized by the 2001 appointment of the pseudonymous statistician La Griffe du Lion as Secretary of Education.
Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Lawrence Summers, the controversial former president of Harvard University, has been replaced as the planned speaker at a UC Board of Regents dinner next week after complaints from faculty members.
"(UC Regents) Chairman Richard Blum and Dr. Summers talked last Thursday and agreed that the regents would have a different speaker," Trey Davis, director of special projects for the UC system, said Saturday.
Davis was unable to say whether a protest letter signed by more than 300 people from the university system had any effect on the decision to find a different speaker for the regents' dinner in Sacramento on Wednesday. He referred those questions to Blum, who is out of the country.
Summers, who was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, resigned from Harvard last year after a long-running clash with some faculty members over his questioning whether women might not have the same innate ability as men in disciplines such as science, math and engineering. He also had thorny relations with minority faculty members during his time at the university.
While Summers later apologized for his remarks, which he said were misinterpreted, it didn't slow the criticism, which continues to this day.
"I was appalled and stunned that someone like Summers would even be invited to speak to the regents," said UC Davis Professor Maureen Stanton, who helped put together the petition drive. "I think many of us who were involved in the protest believed that it wouldn't reflect well on the university that he even received the invitation."
The petition called Summers' invitation "not only misguided but inappropriate" at a time when the university is working to diversify its community.
"Inviting a keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia conveys the wrong message to the University community and to the people of California," the petition said.
The decision to dump Summers as the speaker at the dinner was abrupt. His name was on the dinner invitation that went out Aug. 31, along with other information about the three-day meeting at UC Davis, Davis said.
"The dinner is an informal, social occasion, with more of a conversation with the speaker than a formal talk," he added. Blum, who is the husband of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, made the original decision to invite Summers.
Susan Kennedy, chief of staff for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will replace Summers as speaker at the dinner.
While delighted that the regents have decided to replace Summers, Stanton now hopes the dispute will be quickly forgotten.
"Frankly, we'd like to see the story just die at this point," she said