Larry Summers & Harvard’s endowment (contd.)

Well, well. Dave Boyle pointed me to this story from the April 3 edition of

Back in 2002, a new employee of Harvard University’s endowment manager named Iris Mack wrote a letter to the school’s president, Lawrence Summers, that would ultimately get her fired.

In the letter, dated May 12 of that year, Mack told Summers that she was “deeply troubled and surprised” by things she had seen in her new job as a quantitative analyst at Harvard Management Co.

She would go on to say, in later e-mails and conversations, that she felt the endowment was taking on too much risk in derivatives investments, and that she suspected some of her colleagues were engaging in insider trading, according to a separate letter written by her lawyer that summarized the correspondence.

On July 2 Mack was fired. But six years later, the kinds of investments she allegedly warned about did blow up on Harvard. The endowment plunged 22 percent last summer, in part due to the collapse of the credit markets. As a result, the school is cutting costs and under criticism that it took on too much risk in its investment portfolio.

Mack, who holds a doctorate in mathematics from Harvard, had been with Harvard Management for just four months when she approached Summers. She asked him to keep her communications confidential, or risk making her life “a living hell.”

But on July 1, Mack was called into a meeting by her boss, Jack Meyer, then the chief of Harvard Management.

The next day Meyer fired her, according to the letter from her attorney, Jonathan Margolis, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe. Meyer told Mack that she was fired for making “baseless allegations against HMC to individuals outside of HMC,” according to the Margolis letter…