Former White House economic chief returning to Harvard

BOSTON Wed Jan 5, 2011 2:06pm EST

Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council, speaks about the economic outlook and the financial sector at a luncheon hosted by ''The Economist'' magazine at Pace University in New York October 16, 2009. REUTERS/Nicholas Roberts

Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council, speaks about the economic outlook and the financial sector at a luncheon hosted by ''The Economist'' magazine at Pace University in New York October 16, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Nicholas Roberts

BOSTON (Reuters) - Former White House chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers returns to Harvard University this month to resume teaching and take on a new leadership role, the school said on Wednesday.

Summers heads back to the government-focused Harvard Kennedy School after a leave of absence he took in 2009 to serve as top financial counselor to President Barack Obama.

He announced his resignation from the administration in September.

"It has been an enormous privilege to serve in the White House for the last two critical years," Summers said in a statement released by Harvard.

"Now with the economy stabilizing, I look forward to the opportunity to think, write and teach about some of the critical economic challenges we face taking a longer view than is possible in a position with day-to-day policy responsibility," he said.

Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood told Reuters he was "thrilled" to have Summers back on campus, both as a teacher and in a new leadership role at the school's Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

The center focuses on policy issues involving the public and private sectors, according to Harvard.

Summers is expected to bring a new perspective, studying the implications that the rise of emerging markets will have on traditional relationships between business and government, Harvard said.

"Larry has more experience with economic matters and issues around economic policy than most anyone in the country," Ellwood told Reuters.

Summers will co-teach several classes during the spring semester, focusing on changes in the global economy and the effect on public policy, Harvard said.

He also will be responsible for attracting students to a new joint master's program between Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School, Harvard said.

Summers served as the 27th president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Before that he was former President Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary from 1999 to 2001, Deputy Treasury Secretary from 1995 to 1999 and Undersecretary of the Treasury for International affairs from 1993 to 1995. He was Chief Economist of the World Bank from 1991 to 1993.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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