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Harvard editor sparks revolt among staff over romance

Saturday, March 9, 2002

BOSTON -- The editor of the Harvard Business Review resigned Friday amid a staff revolt over her disclosure that she had a romantic relationship with former General Electric Co. chief Jack Welch after interviewing him for an article.

Two senior staff members quit Friday after learning Suzy Wetlaufer would return to the magazine next month as its editor at large.

Wetlaufer, 42, told The Wall Street Journal that she and Welch became involved several weeks after the article was written and edited.

But before her article ran, she asked in January that it be scrapped. The story was then reassigned to two senior editors, who re-interviewed the 66-year-old Welch and wrote a new version for the February issue.

Wetlaufer, who is divorced, told the Journal she decided to come forward after receiving a phone call from Welch's wife. She has been editor since October 2000.

Several staffers called for Wetlaufer's resignation from the 240,000-circulation journal, an influential publication widely read by the nation's business executives.

"There is no question that the recent controversy has caused many on the staff to lose confidence in my ability to steer this organization," Wetlaufer wrote to staffers Friday.

Wetlaufer's new duties will include full-time responsibility for acquiring, developing and editing material. Her name will remain on the masthead as editor through the June issue and she will keep her office.

The two staff members who resigned in protest, Harris Collingwood and Alden Hayashi, were two of nine senior editors at the journal.

Collingwood, one of the editors who re-interviewed Welch, said his conflict with Wetlaufer and the journal's management was not primarily about her relationship with Welch.

"I hope they'll reconsider," said Walter Kiechel, editorial director of the Harvard Business School Publishing Co. "I think this was done in the heat of the moment."


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