Education: Setting All the Parts in Harmony

Derek Bok steers Harvard through change by consensus

"My name is Derek Bok," the tall, graying man said to a surprised group of freshmen not too long ago, "and I preside over this bizarre institution."

Neatly put, but when Bok took over the presidency of Harvard 15 years ago, at the age of 41, he probably would not have spoken so candidly or so casually about his institution. Though affable and articulate, Bok was and is a very private man. "He's got an envelope around him," as one associate puts it. Yet in the course of his tenure, Bok has successfully steered Harvard through some enormous changes.

In Bok's...

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