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February 25, 2006


I am ashamed of my alma mater. Listen to Prof. Alan Dershowitz (at New England Republican via Vikingpundit):

In America, I am left-center, but certainly closer to the left. And on the Harvard arts and sciences faculty, I would be on the extreme right.

The students at Harvard supported President Larry Summers by a ratio of three to one. . .

As did the Harvard Crimson (the student newspaper) with editorials like "No Confidence in ‘No Confidence:' The Faculty needs to end its groundless campaign to oust the president" (published on February 13th) or "Harvard's Loss: Summers’ vision of a worldly university should serve as model for Harvard’s next chief" (published on February 22nd). . .

As did enlightened elements of the faculty, like economics professor David Laibson, in this OpEd in the Crimson: "Summers and the Students."

Summers had his faults: he was arrogant and boorish. But he was one of the smartest guys around as well as intellectually honest and willing to listen to new ideas or rethink his opinions. Most importantly, he recognized Harvard's responsibility as one of the world's leading universities to help make the world a better place. He took seriously the job of guiding that university into the 21st century, forcefully advocating major investments in life sciences and engineering, as well as introducing a requirement for every undergraduate to have a study abroad experience during their years at Harvard.

During his five year tenure, he tried (unlike most university Presidents) to actually manage the university; to allocate resources towards important areas for research and education, and require faculty members to adhere to high standards of teaching and scholarship. The tragedy for Harvard is that if a man with Larry Summer's talents -- youngest full professor at Harvard, former Secretary of the Treasury, prodigious intellect, robust ego -- is unable to effectively govern the university, who can?

The out of touch, tenured leftists on the FAS faculty should be ashamed of themselves. But this was not primarily a battle of ideology. While Summers was more of a political centrist in many ways (he was forceful in advocating the return of ROTC to Harvard's campus and was the first University President to address the ROTC commissioning ceremony in many, many years), he was, after all, a liberal: a card-carrying friend of Bill's and a loyal member of Clinton's cabinet. What was at stake here was not politics but faculty privilege: would tenured academics be left alone to work (or not) as they saw fit, without executive oversight or criticism.

Again, I am very disappointed in Harvard. It should have done better; and easily could have. If only the seven members of the Corporation who hired Summers (and were the only people who had the power to accept or request Summers' resignation) had shown more backbone.

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February 25, 2006 at 09:42 PM | Permalink


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