University President Lee Bollinger interviewed with the Harvard University presidential search committee last weekend in Manhattan, members of the University Board of Regents confirmed yesterday.

Paul Wong
University of Michigan President Lee Bollinger leaves the Hotel Plaza Athenee in New York after interviewing with Harvard University”s presidential search committee Sunday<br><br>GARRETT M. GRAFF/The Harvard Crimson

The secret meeting Sunday at the Hotel Plaza Athenee marks the third time Bollinger has interviewed with the committee, which is expected to conclude its eight-month search for a successor to outgoing Harvard President Neil Rudenstine as early as next week.

Bollinger declined comment yesterday through his secretary, Erika Hrabec, who said Bollinger would not confirm that he met with the search committee.

Regent Rebecca McGowan (D-Ann Arbor) said she could not offer any insight on the likelihood that Harvard would offer Bollinger the job.

“I truly don”t know anything about this,” McGowan said. “Harvard is doing its thing and the only person on this campus who knows anything is Lee. I have no speculation.”

Regent Dan Horning (R-Grand Haven) said Bollinger spoke with the regents about interviewing with the search committee last weekend before his departure. Horning said he has discussed the Harvard presidency with Bollinger as well.

“I”ve had a discussion with President Bollinger and I”d just as soon keep my conversation with him private,” Horning said.

Bollinger is one of the final four candidates for Harvard”s top spot, along with Harvard Provost Harvey Fineberg, Princeton University Prof. Amy Gutmann and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. Harvard”s search committee also interviewed Gutmann in New York last month.

Fineberg, Gutmann and Summers all have degrees from Harvard. Bollinger”s only connection to the Cambridge, Mass., school is his daughter Cary, a 1998 Harvard graduate.

The Harvard Crimson reported yesterday that eight of the nine presidential search committee members met in a closed meeting Sunday in a 14th-floor suite of the luxury hotel. A staff member from the meeting, which was registered as the “Goodall” party, asked reporters from the newspaper to leave the hotel.

Following lunch in a second-floor private dining room, Bollinger spoke briefly with the committee before leaving the hotel at about 2 p.m. with a hotel security guard, the Crimson reported. Committee members then met for another hour before adjourning and declined comment to reporters.

The next meeting of the search committee is scheduled for Sunday in Cambridge.

Even as Harvard nears the end of its search process, Horning said the regents are not expecting Bollinger to leave the University of Michigan anytime soon.

“I stopped by yesterday to wish him a happy Presidents Day,” Horning said.

Bollinger, who has served as president since 1996, has repeatedly refused to comment on Harvard”s search process other than to say he was “flattered” but still happy at his position in Ann Arbor.

When asked about his candidacy for the Harvard position at last Thursday”s University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting, Bollinger said, “I think I”d like to stick with what I”ve said before on this.”

Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said he was unaware of last weekend”s meeting between Bollinger and the search committee until reading the Crimson”s report yesterday.

Because Harvard is a private institution, presidential searches are not required to be public. Wrinn said he is not kept up-to-date about developments in the selection process.

“Frankly, there wouldn”t be any need for me to know until their work is all done,” he said.

The university has no official comment on when the process is expected to be complete, Wrinn said.

“We”re still hoping it would be by the end of the academic year,” he said.

Daily Staff Reporters Anna Clark and Jen Fish contributed to this report.

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