Top Harvard economics, poetry scholars to lecture at UM

Powerhouse scholars from the worlds of economics and poetry will each offer public lectures at the University of Montana on Monday, Sept. 24.

The speakers are Lawrence Summers, one of the nation’s leading economists and the 71st U.S. secretary of the treasury during the Clinton administration, and Elisa New, the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University and creator of “Poetry in America,” a public television series.

UM President Seth Bodnar will engage Summers and Ambassador Max Baucus in a public fireside chat titled “The United States in a New Global Order: An Evening with Larry Summers and Max Baucus” at 7:30 p.m. in UM’s Montana Theater of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center. The chat will livestream at

New will present “Dunking the Sonnet … and Other Literary Fast Breaks: How Poetry in America is Bringing Verse to the Small Screen” at 4 p.m. in Gallagher Business Building Room 123.

Both events are free and open to the public.

“Bringing two speakers of this caliber to campus on the same day is a privilege and an honor,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “Summers and New will provide our students, employees and wider Montana community with exceptional learning opportunities.”

Summers served as director of the White House National Economic Council during the Obama administration, as president of Harvard University and as chief economist of the World Bank.

Summers’ tenure at the U.S. Treasury coincided with the longest period of sustained economic growth in U.S. history. He is the only treasury secretary in the past half-century to leave office with the national budget in surplus, and he has played a key role in addressing every major financial crisis for the past two decades.

Summers is now the President Emeritus and the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University, where he became a full professor at age 28 – one of the youngest in Harvard’s recent history. He directs Harvard’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Summers also is an adviser to businesses and investors. He serves on the board of  Square and Premise. He chairs the boards of Citizen Schools and the Center for Global Development. He also serves on the board of Teach for America and ONE. He is an adviser to The Hamilton Project, The Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. In addition, he is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and recently co-chaired the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity.

New teaches American literature at Harvard. She is the creator and host of “Poetry in America,” a public television series and multiplatform digital initiative that brings poetry into classrooms and living rooms around the world. In partnership with Harvard, the program offers free online courses for global learners, as well as for-credit and professional development courses for undergraduates, graduate students and educational practitioners.

Dozens of celebrities and politicians have assisted with the program, including Herbie Hancock, Katie Couric, Elena Kagan, Shaquille O’Neal, John McCain, Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

New earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1998 and came to Harvard in 1999. She is the author of several books, including “The Regenerate Lyric: Theology and Innovation in American Poetry.” Her online Harvard course is titled How to Read American Poetry.