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Harvard University Statement of Values

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

The attached “Statement of Values,” endorsed by the Academic Advisory Group, which includes the President, the Provost, and the Deans of the Faculties, represents an effort to articulate basic values that should be reflected in policy and practice throughout the University. Although we recognize that our various Schools and units have distinctive missions, cultures, and ways of doing business, it is important that we, as a community, embrace certain values as a means of creating and sustaining an environment of trust and mutual understanding.

We are guided in this undertaking by the positive experience of certain of our Schools that have developed values statements and established processes for implementing them, and by the work of the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies, chaired by Lawrence Katz. The Committee articulated the significance of dignity and respect for all who work on this campus, and coupled its recommendations concerning tangible compensation for service workers with suggested measures to improve the quality of work life.

The attached statement identifies a set of basic values that should inform work at Harvard. I have asked each Dean and Vice President to initiate a process early in the Fall to make sure that members of their local communities are aware of and understand the shared workplace values stated here, as well as others they may choose to affirm. I have further requested that they identify individuals in their local communities to whom faculty, students, and staff may turn if they perceive a problem.

In addition, we plan to appoint a University ombudsperson whose services will be available to anyone in the University community concerned about workplace conditions. Many universities have found that an ombudsperson can serve as a useful resource on issues relating to the quality of work life. We have examined models for this kind of position, and we will work cooperatively with the schools to ensure an appropriate relation between the ombuds function and the existing mechanisms within Schools and departments.

All who work at Harvard, regardless of rank or position, contribute in vital ways to education and scholarship. The attached statement of values, and the processes to implement them, are designed to ensure that our policies and practices reflect this principle.

With all best wishes,


Lawrence H. Summers

Harvard University Statement of Values

August 2002

Harvard University aspires to provide education and scholarship of the highest quality — to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to prepare individuals for life, work, and leadership. Achieving these aims depends on the efforts of thousands of faculty, students, and staff across the University. Some of us make our contribution by engaging directly in teaching, learning, and research, others of us, by supporting and enabling those core activities in essential ways. Whatever our individual roles, and wherever we work within Harvard, we owe it to one another to uphold certain basic values of the community. These include:

  • Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others
  • Honesty and integrity in all dealings
  • Conscientious pursuit of excellence in one’s work
  • Accountability for actions and conduct in the workplace

The more we embrace these values in our daily lives, the more we create and sustain an environment of trust, cooperation, lively inquiry, and mutual understanding — and advance a commitment to education and scholarship, which all of us share.