Harry R. Lewis

Harry R. Lewis

  • Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science


Harry Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is the author of six books and numerous articles on various aspects of computer science. Over his more than forty years of teaching he has helped launch thousands of Harvard undergraduates into careers in computer science.

His book about higher education, Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future was a Boston Globe best-seller and the subject of favorable reviews in both the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal. It has been translated into Chinese (in both Taiwanese and mainland editions) and Korean. He is coauthor with Hal Abelson and Ken Ledeen of Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion (2008), which explains for the general reader the origins and public consequences of the explosion of digital information.

From 1995-2003 Lewis served as Dean of Harvard College. In this capacity he oversaw the undergraduate experience, including residential life, career services, public service, academic and personal advising, athletic policy, and intercultural and race relations. He is a long time member of the College’s Admissions Committee. He has also served as interim Dean of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Lewis has worked extensively on the algorithmic solvability of logical, computational, and combinatorial systems, attempting to clarify the relations between them and to identify their common characteristics. He is also actively involved in the use of computers in education, and his books have had a significant influence on the teaching of the foundations of computer science to undergraduates.

Contact Information

Office:Maxwell Dworkin 237
Office Phone:(617) 496-2424
Assistant:Ann Marie King
Assistant Office:Maxwell Dworkin 114A
Assistant Phone:(617) 496-1447
Research Mgr: Rady M. Rogers

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard University

  • July 2010-Present: Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science
  • July 2003-June 2008: Harvard College Professor
  • July 1995-July 2003: Dean of Harvard College
  • July 1981-Present: Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
  • July 1978-June 1981: Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • July 1974-June 1978: Assistant Professor of Computer Science
  • July 1970-June 1971: Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellow of Harvard University

Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

  • July 1968-June 1970: Junior Assistant HealthServices Officer

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Chair, Administrative Board of Harvard College (the body that grants exceptions to college rules and
    responds to infractions of those rules)
  • Chair, Faculty Standing Committee on Athletic Sports
  • Chair, Faculty Standing Committee on Advising and Counseling
  • Chair, Committee on House Life
  • Chair, Committee on College Life
  • Faculty Standing Committee on Information Technology
  • Faculty Standing Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid in Harvard College
  • Faculty Standing Committee on Public Service
  • Academic Deans of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (the group that reviews all senior appointments to the Faculty)
  • Faculty Council of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (the steering committee for business of the Faculty)
  • Committee on Undergraduate Education
  • Educational Policy Committee
  • Standing Committee on the Core Curriculum
  • Harvard's Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA
  • Harvard's Representative on the Ivy League Policy Committee
  • Institutional representative to the Consortium on Financing Higher Education
  • Chair, Commission of Inquiry, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Acting Chair, Core Curriculum Subcommittee on Quantitative Reasoning
  • Co-Chair, Committee on the Structure of Harvard College (an Ad Hoc review committee during 1993--1994)}
  • Committee on Graduate Education
  • University Committee on Information Technology and Subcommittee on Intellectual Property (1996--1997)
  • Committee to review Harvard's relation to the American Repertory Theatre (1996--1997)
  • Board of Tutors in Applied Mathematics and in Computer Science (the governing boards of these undergraduate concentrations)
  • Numerous search committees, including those for the Director of Admissions (1983), the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid (1985), the Dean of Freshmen (1992), the Head Coach of Football (1994), the Director of Computer Services (1993), and the Director of Dining Services (1996)