Term of office: 2001-2006
Lawrence H. Summers is President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot Professor of Harvard University. He has served in a series of senior public policy positions, including Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2011, and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, from 1999 to 2001. He received his bachelor of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1982.
In 1983, he became one of the youngest individuals in recent history to be named a tenured member of Harvard’s faculty. In 1987, he became the first social scientist ever to receive the annual Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation (NSF), established by Congress to honor an exceptional young U.S. scientist or engineer whose work demonstrates originality and a significant impact within one’s field. In 1993, Mr. Summers was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. Mr. Summers took leave from Harvard in 1991 to return to Washington, this time as vice president of development economics and chief economist of the World Bank.
In 1993, Mr. Summers was named as the nation’s Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. In 1995, then Secretary Robert E. Rubin promoted Mr. Summers to the department’s number-two post, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, in which he played a central role in a broad array of economic, financial, and tax matters, both international and domestic. On July 2, 1999, the United States Senate confirmed Mr. Summers as Secretary of the Treasury. At the end of his term as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Summers was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal, the treasury department’s highest honor.
On July 1, 2001, Mr. Summers took office as the 27th president of Harvard University. As president he oversaw significant growth in the faculties, the further internationalization of the Harvard experience, expanded efforts in and enhanced commitment to the sciences, laying the ground work for Harvard’s future development of an expanded campus in Allston, and improved efforts to attract the strongest students, regardless of financial circumstance, with the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative. These initiatives were sustained by five years of successful fundraising and strong endowment returns.
In 2009, Mr. Summers was appointed to serve as the Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration. He returned to his position at Harvard in early 2011. As Director of the White House National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, Summers served as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration. Mr. Summers was the chief White House advisor to the President on the development and implementation of economic policy and led the President’s daily economic briefing. He was also a frequent public spokesman for the Administration’s policies.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 30, 1954, Mr. Summers spent most of his childhood in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and was educated in the Lower Merion public schools. He and his wife Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard, reside in Brookline with their six children.