For years, administrators at Harvard University could throw money at anything that tickled their fancy. A new medical school building for $260 million? Sure. A massive, Robert A.M. Stern—designed addition to Harvard Law School? No problem. One of the most sweeping financial aid initiatives ever undertaken? Consider it done.
Of course, that was before the money dried up.
The longtime head of Harvard Management Company, Jack Meyer, quit to start his own hedge fund in 2005 after growing fed up with criticism over the eight-figure salaries some of his managers were pulling down and with persistent meddling from top Harvard officials. Two particular annoyances were Summers, who had been questioning Meyer’s investment strategies, and Robert Rubin, a member of the Harvard Corporation, who frowned on Meyer’s aggressive strategies and wound up on the “warpath” with Meyer, as one person put it.
• When Meyer left, he took much of Harvard Management Company with him — including 30 portfolio managers and traders, as well as the chief risk officer, chief operating officer, and chief technology officer. The place became “like a Ferrari without the engine,” according to a portfolio manager who arrived after Meyer left. This angered Rubin, according to someone who knows him well: “In Rubin’s opinion, Meyer crippled the institution.”