Thursday, 4:30 PM
Candidate: count me out
By Marcella Bombardieri and Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff
Nobel laureate Thomas R. Cech, a leading contender for the presidency of Harvard University, unexpectedly withdrew from consideration Wednesday, sending a wave of uncertainty about the search across campus.
Until Wednesday, Cech and Drew Gilpin Faust, the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, were the top finalists, a person knowledgeable about the search committee’s deliberations said. The search was expected to end as early as this weekend, but Cech’s announcement could delay a decision.
Cech told the search committee of his decision Wednesday morning, he said in an interview. He said he is not ready to give up his commitments to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he is president, or the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he maintains a biochemistry lab.
"I already have a great job at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a commitment to its work promoting biomedical research and education throughout the country and the world," he said by phone from Colorado.
He refused to discuss details about the search.
The source said Wednesday morning that neither Faust nor Cech had been offered the job.
Two other inside candidates, provost Steven E. Hyman and law school dean Elena Kagan, remain in contention, the source said. Cech’s decision may slow the process, as the committee reconsiders its options, or it could speed it up, if the members simply agree to tap Faust, the person added.
A spokesman for Harvard declined to comment Wednesday.