Harvard prez

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria is among the shortlist of candidates being considered to take over as president of the university. More than a dozen alumni and professors mentioned the Indian American educator as a potential frontrunner. (screen grab of YouTube/Harvard)

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria is among the shortlist of candidates being considered by the Harvard Presidential Search Committee, with many thinking the Indian American is the frontrunner to take over the spot.

The committee, searching for Harvard University’s next president, recently narrowed its list of hundreds to a significantly shorter list of potential presidents, the Harvard Crimson reported, citing two individuals with knowledge of the search.

According to the sources in the report, there are four candidates from within the university. In addition to Nohria, others being considered by the 15-member committee include government Prof. Danielle S. Allen, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, and university Provost Alan M. Garber.

The committee received more than 600 recommendations for the post. The number of individuals outside of the four candidates within the university still being considered is unknown, the report said.

More than a dozen alumni and professors mentioned Nohria as a potential frontrunner, according to the report.

When asked by the Harvard Crimson whether Harvard’s next president should have a background in engineering, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Francis J. Doyle III said no, but, unprompted, pointed out that Nohria has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, the report noted.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, who said he is very close to Nohria personally, declined to comment on whether he thinks Nohria would be well-suited for the president’s post in an interview with the publication. He also declined to say whether Nohria has ever expressed interest in the position, it said.

“Dean Nohria is an individual who I have the utmost respect for,” Khurana said in the report. “He shaped me as a student, as a scholar, as a research collaborator, as a mentor. He made me a better person.”

Khurana noted in the report that he believes the next president is someone who is not only a leader for Harvard, but is a leader for higher education.

Nohria became the dean of Harvard Business School in 2010. Since then, he has helped raise more than $1 billion for the business school’s capital campaign and has overseen a drive to increase gender equity at the school, the Crimson reported.

Presidential search experts and Harvard affiliates have said Harvard’s next president will need to tackle several different challenges as he or she assumes office, including reshaping social life at the college, lobbying the federal government, growing Harvard’s engineering profile, and managing the university’s embattled finances, the report said.

The new president will replace Drew G. Faust, who announced in the summer she intends to step down in June 2018.

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