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Letter to the Harvard community about Sidney Verba’s retirement

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library, announced today that he will retire as University Professor and step down from his duties as Director of the Library at the close of this academic year. I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for Sid’s lifetime of service to the University and his friendship to me and countless other colleagues at Harvard and in the broader academic community.

A scholar of high distinction, Sid has been a pioneer in comparative research on civic culture and is recognized as one of the world’s leading political scientists. His incisive analysis has made significant contributions to his field of scholarship and greatly enlarged our understanding of participatory democracy and civic life. His scholarship has been felt in both academia and policy circles.

Closer to home, Professor Verba has led the Harvard libraries during one of their most transformative periods in the University’s history. I have greatly valued his friendship and counsel over the years. When I appointed him more than 20 years ago, we were only beginning to realize what the revolution in information technology would mean. Sid’s foresight has helped to preserve our valuable collections and opened Harvard’s vast resources to scholars, researchers, and students throughout the world. I believe that generations of students will benefit from the doors that Sid has opened.

Identifying a successor to Professor Verba will be a matter of high priority. I intend to appoint an advisory committee this fall to assist me in the search, with the goal of identifying a successor before Sid steps down.

For now, I hope that all of you will join me in thanking Sid for everything he has done for scholarship around the world, but especially for what he has meant to Harvard.


Derek Bok