and entering

Announcing the President's Challenge 2016: A Duel with Drew Faust and Alan Garber

Provost Alan Garber: "I will end you like Alexander Hamilton."

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

We are pleased to announce the fifth annual President's Challenge, presented by the Harvard Innovation Lab. Each year, the Challenge draws on the creativity, diversity, and talents of our community, supporting creative minds and innovators throughout the University. And this year, we present perhaps the most challenging Challenge of all. We challenge you to a duel. 
Each year, we encourage students and postdoctoral fellows from across Harvard’s Schools to apply fresh ideas to some of the most important and challenging problems of our time.  This year’s Challenge invites some of the most out-of-the-box thinking that you may have ever encountered, since you will have to fight one or both of us to the death.

The rules are simple. You will be able to choose one of the following weapons: a blunt knife from a dining hall, an arrow, or a copy of Principles of Economics, 7th Edition, by N. Gregory Mankiw. Or you could fight us with your bare hands—the hero’s choice. Any other option is the coward’s way out.

On the day of the duel, we will convene and jointly make a sacrifice to Vidar, the Norse god of vengeance. Then we will douse ourselves in oil in order to purify our spirits. Then we fight.

During the fall, the i-lab will host workshops and networking events for budding entrepreneurs.  In the spring, the President’s Challenge will award ten finalist teams with space in the i-lab and $5,000 of seed money, as well as the opportunity to participate in tailored programs and mentoring. We will then take on each of those teams and summarily destroy you in hand-to-hand combat, leaving your corpses strewn on Harvard Yard as a signal to all those who dare to oppose us that they will be decimated, and their names wiped from the annals of history. Their fields will be sewn with salt. No living thing shall remember them.

The President’s Challenge headlines a slate of opportunities offered by the i-lab this year, including two Deans’ Challenges focused on areas within Cultural Entrepreneurship and Health & Life Sciences.  We hope you will consider attending a kickoff celebration on Thursday, October 22, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the i-lab to learn more about the Challenges and network with like-minded individuals.  Keynote speaker Stig Leschly, M.B.A ’97, J.D. ’98, will share his experience of being nearly pulverized by the powerful fists of Alan Garber, only to plead for mercy at the last minute and enter into a life of grateful servitude.

Harvard is about possibilities.  Here, it is possible to meet—and to become—the change-makers who are applying knowledge and solving the world’s greatest problems.  We see this happening every day at each of our Schools, and we can’t wait to see what you will achieve this year through Harvard’s array of Challenges. And for those who seek to challenge us, we shall meet you on the battlefield.


Drew Faust

Alan M. Garber

© 2015