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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 22:19 GMT
Beleaguered Harvard head to quit
Larry Summers
Dr Summers leaves at the end of the academic year
The president of Harvard University has announced his resignation after a turbulent five years and a week ahead of a second no-confidence vote.

Lawrence Summers lost the first vote in March last year after suggesting women had less "intrinsic aptitude" than men for science.

The ex-Treasury secretary, whose tenure is the briefest in 140 years, will leave at the end of this academic year.

He said the rift with some staff made his agenda of renewal "infeasible".

'State of paralysis'

Dr Summers' controversial leadership style has divided opinion at the Ivy League university.

His comments on gender, for which he repeatedly apologised, led the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to pass the no-confidence vote last March.

I believe that it is best for the university to have new leadership
Lawrence Summers

The second no-confidence vote, for 28 February, was called following the abrupt resignation of the arts and sciences dean William Kirby in January.

The votes are largely symbolic as only the governing body has the power to remove a president.

Zoology professor, Farish A Jenkins Jr, told Reuters: "The university has been in a state of paralysis... Harvard can't be run by one man."

But Dr Summers also had his supporters.

A recent survey in a student newspaper showed 57% of the 424 undergraduate students polled believed he should not resign.

Dr Summers said: "I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard's future."

Derek Bok, who led Harvard from 1971 to 1991, will become interim president in July and Dr Summers will remain as a professor.

Dr Summers, Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, set up two taskforces after his comments on gender.

The university announced it was spending $50m (27m) on women scientists over the next decade.

Dr Summers' leadership is the shortest since Cornelius Felton died in 1862 after two years in office.

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