Tag Archives: president

Want to Hear Obama? Just Say You Support Him

Many people are miffed at the way the University of
Wisconsin is handling President Obama’s visit to our campus today. Concerns are
not with the visit per se–most of us think the event is something very
compelling, a bit of history entering through our gates. The location of the
speech in the heart of the campus is one problem–it requires the cancellation
of some classes. A far bigger one  is
that to get tickets to the event, students are required by the University to go to the Obama campaign website, provide
contact information, and then click on a button that says ‘I’m In!’.

A faculty colleague,
Ken Mayer, sent around an email of protest. He wrote: “Having a president visit as an
educational public event is one thing. Forcing students to declare their
support for a presidential candidate in order to attend the event on campus is
quite another. Should we be in the business of helping a campaign farm
thousands of email addresses?”

Mayer’s point is very well taken. The University is
making itself a partner in a campaign operation that will take extensive
student information and use it for campaign purposes. I cannot imagine this
procedure being employed for a typical public speech on this campus.

In addition, this procedure raises questions of
“compelled association.” Under the First Amendment, no one can be compelled to
associate with or support ideas or causes with which that person disagrees or
does not care to associate. A long line of cases support this principle: the
right not to speak or associate is the flip side of the right to speak or

It is very likely
that principled students–those on both sides of the political spectrum as well
as many students who have taken my First Amendment class–will refuse to so
associate. Interestingly, many pro-Obama faculty members I have spoken with have
expressed deep concerns about the procedure for obtaining a ticket. Mayer and I
have expressed our problems with the handling of this event to campus
authorities, but at least I have not heard back as of this writing.

Is this an example of a partisan university bending over
to accommodate the progressive hero? I do not know. I think the more likely
explanation is that decisions were hurried, and that it simply may not have
occurred to anyone that the registration procedures in this case posed serious
problems for the principles of an open university. By delegating this plan to
the campaign itself, we have forsaken our commitment to an open university at
the same time that we are striving to affirm those principles by holding this
extraordinary event. This is not something of which we should be proud.

John Silber, R.I.P.

John Silber.JPG

Silber was not a humble man. In 1996, when he moved up from the presidency of
Boston University to the chancellorship, he likened his successor to Joshua and
himself to Moses, the only man, according to the Hebrew Bible, who saw God face
to face.

it’s hard to image a college or university president mattering the way Dr.
Silber did then, to many within and without academia. Teresa Sullivan’s ouster
and reinstatement at the University of Virginia grabbed national attention, but
no one claims her leadership is greatly good or bad. Now as in the past, most
presidents exist to cast a glow of learning over mundane activities such as
placating faculty, blessing five-year plans, and, above all, raising money.

I worked for him, with the comical title of “Special Assistant for Covert
Operations,” Dr. Silber described himself in his Texan growl as zookeeper to some
of the most rambunctious critters on earth. But far from a mere caretaker, Silber
took a stand–often athwart history–for the sake of excellence. He offers an
example of how an elitist can actually thrive within a democracy.

Continue reading John Silber, R.I.P.

Shirley Tilghman Leaving Princeton

Shirley Tilghman, who has just announced that she will step down as president of Princeton at the end of the academic year,  was chosen as the successor to former president Harold Shapiro in part because the powers that be thought it about time that the university had a female in that office.  She was the first president of Princeton not to have been a former student (graduate or undergraduate) and she didn’t come with extensive administrative experience.

Among her accomplishments is the increased financial aid package that Princeton now offers to students from lower and middle income circumstances.  Undergraduates at Princeton overwhelmingly come from upper-middle-class and affluent families, and there has been a push under Tilghman’s watch to bring in students (including whites) from less affluent backgrounds student body. The idea is a good one and Princeton has enough money in scholarship aid to pull it off.

And under her presidency the undergraduate student body expanded by over 500 through the addition of Whitman College (named after benefactor and Princeton grad Meg Whitman).  The big advantage of this is that the ratio of recruited athletes to other students goes down.  While racial affirmative action still prevails, in keeping the number of athletes constant while increasing the total number of students admitted, a higher proportion of students who get into Princeton now make it on their brains, not athletic ability.

One of her biggest mistakes: Her claim in the face of the Larry Summers affair that “the data that would suggest there are innate differences in the abilities of men and women to succeed in the natural sciences is nonexistent.”  This is ludicrous.  Textbooks (e.g. Diana Halpern’s Sex Differences in Cognition, and Doreen Kimura’s Sex and Cognition) have provided exhaustive data. Only the wilfully blind could ignore the facts.

Another dubious decision: her refusal to allow the student Love and Chastity group to set up a center on campus that would be comparable to the feminist-oriented Women’s Center and the LGBT center.  The purpose of the center would be to present a haven from the campus hook-up culture and a place for students of traditional values regarding sex and marriage to have a place where they could share ideas and feel comfortable talking with students of the opposite sex.  The students even offered to pay for the center with donations from supportive alumni but Tilghman nixed the idea.  Her response, an open letter printed in the student newspaper, seemed remarkably weak. Shirley Tilghman is a nice person without a strong political or ideological compass. In academia, this indicates someone who will almost automatically absorb the secular leftism of the dominant campus ethos and the New York Times editorial page.

Why Many Conservatives Got It Wrong on UVa

uva.jpgBy any ordinary standard, Teresa Sullivan is the kind of
university president conservatives love to hate. In 2010, after the Board of Visitors
unanimously elected her the first female president of the University of
Virginia, one of her first acts was to endorse and publish the UVA Diversity
Council’s statement expressing commitment in–what else?–diversity. Sullivan had co-authored two books on middle-class
debt with none other than Elizabeth Warren, who famously exploited informal
racial quotas at prestigious academic institutions by falsely claiming Native
American ancestry on the sole basis of her high cheekbones. In short, Sullivan
appeared as a diversity hire interested only in campus diversity at UVA and who
has worked with another diversity hire to produce diversity scholarship. It is as if Sullivan was not born but rather fashioned out of the politically correct

Can A College President Be “Diverse”?

“Meet the new boss,” the Chronicle of Higher Education begins its article today (March 12) on the American Council of Education’s latest survey on “The American College President 2012,” and continues: “Same as the old boss.”

By “same,” of course, the Chronicle didn’t mean that most college presidents share common religious, political, or cultural views, or come from the same social class or part of the country. It meant that they were still (after all these years!) not “diverse,” were a presumably fungible bunch of old white men.

Continue reading Can A College President Be “Diverse”?

How to Be President of Yale Forever (At Least)

Vartan Gregorian once said the way to become a successful college president is simple: stand up, give a speech on “diversity,” then sit down.

Richard Levin, president of Yale, is the longest-lasting president of an Ivy League university, and following Gregorian’s sage advice is surely one reason why. Whenever a serious incident occurs at Yale, Levin’s first instinct is to put out a resonant but off-key statement stoutly defending a point not really at issue.

Continue reading How to Be President of Yale Forever (At Least)

Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World


New Pew Research Center data show that a large majority of Americans think U.S. colleges and universities offer only fair or poor value for the financial cost -but college presidents strikingly disagree, with a majority of them thinking college offers at least a good value (though college presidents are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the quality of American higher education compared to the world ten years from now). Similarly, a majority of Americans question whether college is truly affordable any more, a view that most college presidents do not share. More generally, people in the academy have views widely divergent from the mainstream of the American population.

Turning to college presidents, I think a lot of this attitudinal divide relates to the non-market environment in which colleges operate. How do you become a successful college president? You raise lots of money, which you then use to bribe the various constituents in the university community to keep them happy. The faculty you bribe with low teaching loads, good fringe benefits, and perhaps a nearby parking place. Your fellow top administrators whose support is vital you bribe with not only good salaries, but also lots of assistants who do much of the heavy lifting associated with the job. You bribe the students by giving them nice recreational and dorm facilities, and reach an implicit bargain with them to not demand much academically (hence grade inflation) and to largely ignore their hedonistic bouts of alcoholic and sexual excesses. You bribe the alumni with decent football and basketball teams and a nice campus facility where they can hang out. You bribe the trustees with whatever idiosyncratic whim they want. In short, you spend money to keep a narrow group of people associated with the Ivory Tower happy.

Contrast that with business leaders. They are motivated by profits, maximizing the gap between revenue and costs. To increase revenues, they must please vast numbers of persons with new or improved products. They also enhance profits by reducing costs, raising productivity so they can do more with less. They reward subordinates who further these goals with bonuses, stock options, etc.

Continue reading Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World

College Presidents–Do They Make Too Much Money?


The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s recently released annual survey of the salaries of university presidents provides empirical support for the proposition that higher education today appears to be less about achieving lofty goals like disseminating knowledge, building character, promoting virtue and expanding the frontiers of what humans can do than it is about something far more mundane: keeping the members of the academy happy and well fed.

I believe strongly that free markets work remarkably well and that includes the market for labor. The reason LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and CEOs of highly profitable top corporations (including for-profit universities) are exceedingly well paid (many millions of dollars annually) is that their contribution to their employers is huge and can usually be pretty well measured–so markets dictate that they are paid, roughly, what they contribute to output at the margin. The Cleveland Cavaliers sank as a basketball power when Mr. James moved to Miami, and with that the revenue stream generated by Mr. James’s talents fell as well.

Traditional higher education, however, is a different matter. Markets are not truly “free” (indeed, they are rather expensive!) Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State, cost that institution over $1.8 million in compensation last year (double the next highest paid public university president). But did that school have a good year because of President Gee? Who knows? Are students learning more?  Is Ohio State broadening our horizons of human potentialities more than in the past? Is President Gee worth roughly three times the salary of his predecessor? Is he well over twice as productive as the long-time president of the school’s arch athletic rival, Mary Sue Coleman of the University of Michigan? Again, who knows?

Continue reading College Presidents–Do They Make Too Much Money?

What Is Texas A&M up to?

image001.gifSomewhere in America the president of a public university is getting hammered by the chairman of the board of regents. The hammerer—let’s say he owns a chain of automobile dealerships – is arguing that the president must get faculty costs under control – or else.

“Admit it, John,” the chairman says to the president. “Your faculty are a bunch of lazy, overpaid whiners. You’ve got six months to figure out a pay-for-performance plan, or start looking for another job.”

A former physicist who understands well the hornets nest he’s about to fall into, our beleaguered university president is left with little choice but to come up with a quick and dirty plan.

“Give me a spreadsheet,” he orders his senior vice president for budget and planning. “I want every faculty member in this system to have a dollar value attached to his or her name, reflecting their net contribution to our bottom line. Then I want a faculty salary schedule to reflect that.”

The president got his spreadsheet. A former physics colleague who was awarded a Nobel Prize some twenty years ago saw his salary slashed in half. Though he’d become a star teacher since his Nobel, his research grants had been dwindling for years. By contrast, there was the recent hire in the Construction Management program. She was a new Ph.D. who was already bringing in tons of industry money for “research.” In contrast to the Nobel Laureate, her salary would shoot up 35 percent. Our university president could think only about what Albert Einstein once said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Continue reading What Is Texas A&M up to?

Your College President Is Your Pal

Tales of the modern-day college president were reported by the Washington Post in a July 12th article, “College Presidents Taste Life Outside Their Offices,” by James Johnson and Daniel de Vise. The president, we were told, is more accessible and easy to talk to, less formal and willing to do things with students unheard of just a few years ago, including joining in a student snowball fight on campus. Many of them have transformed themselves from authority figures to buddies and big siblings as they show their human side. It is something that many parents and students have come to expect as they pony up tuitions that continue to grow even as their resources do not. The presidents want to show their respective publics that they know their students and their needs and will make a great effort to satisfy them.

The trend toward more effective marketing of the campus leader comes at the same time that colleges are offering greater creature comforts to their students – health clubs, new labs and classroom buildings, better appointed living quarters and increasing variety in campus dining. Thus, the accessible college president is like the concierge in a first-class vacation resort. In addition, the college can make contacts for students off campus – internships, study abroad programs, joint degree programs, new majors, distance learning and enhanced placement services for graduates. It strives to be “the college for all seasons.”

Although the article did not suggest it, the reality is that colleges are falling in line with other institutions in a transformation of major parts of American culture. They are putting extraordinary emphasis on what the consumer would like to have. In some significant ways, the institutions are becoming what the market expects of them. Their actual mission statement begins to describe what will sell. These institutions surrender the sense of self and the understanding of core values that traditionally represented who they were and what they were doing. In many respects they believe that their survival requires them to cast their lot with the future rather than the old past. In this way the accessible, genial, folksy college president is a beloved figure. In many respects, the new college president represents an improvement over the indifferent and aloof administrator. But if all we have is a change in style then we are not offered much in terms of what really matters. Indeed, the cost of satisfying more of what the public wants rather than what it needs is, in the long run, unsustainable. In the universities, these creature comforts mean higher tuitions and increased student debt to meet the costs of attendance. There is a real limit to this kind of accommodation as tuitions and fees consistently exceed cost of living indicators for other needs as the cost-benefit analysis piles up heaps of benefits, some of them unnecessary. A day of reckoning may soon be at hand.

Continue reading Your College President Is Your Pal

Lose A President To A Coup And You Will Fail

The recent attempts to drive Robert Kerrey from the presidency of The New School are reminiscent of how Larry Summers was driven from the Harvard presidency in 2006 and, further back, how controversies, real and specious, roiled American campuses in the 1960s and 1970s. If the Trustees of the New School are at all tempted to give in to demands for Kerrey’s head, these previous academic power struggles ought to send them one clear message of warning: lose a president to a coup and you will fail in the governance of your campus.
The complaints against Kerrey ought to sound familiar to anyone who has watched university reform in action. Kerrey is accused of being an autocrat and of putting fiscal concerns ahead of academic needs. He is lambasted for his politically-incorrect views on America’s wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
In December the New School Faculty voted 271-8 to express no confidence in him and his chief financial officer. At the same time radical students occupied Kerrey’s office; they have since demanded that Kerrey resign and that they be given a role in picking the next Provost. The students also threaten to shut the campus down if their demands are not met by April 1.

Continue reading Lose A President To A Coup And You Will Fail

Trainwreck At William And Mary

As the twelve-year tenure of popular President Timothy Sullivan drew to a close in the Spring of 2005, the search for his successor was well underway. Under the direction of the Rector of the College’s governing Board of Visitors, Susan Magill, a political appointee whose day job was chief of staff for Virginia Senator John Warner, there were three finalists for the Presidency. Two of them were deans currently serving at the College, in education and law, and the dean of the law school at the University of North Carolina.

That was a tip off that something was drastically wrong with the search conducted by second- tier search firm Isaacson, Miller. If a management consultant is often derided as someone “who borrows your watch and then charges you to tell you what time it is,” a search firm that can come up with only one finalist for a position as President at a college like William and Mary who isn’t already on campus can’t be doing much of a job. And the idea of a dean in one of the most mediocre fields at any liberal arts college, education, being considered as head of a “public ivy” was bizarre. Magill was urged to cancel the search and hire another firm. She refused.

On of the search firm’s complicating factors was that Magill and her Board had insisted that the three finalists be exposed in a public beauty contest to the College students and faculty who would have a voice in the selection. The best candidates quite often prefer to keep their considerations of other professional options private so they can keep their options open. That obviously was no problem for two deans already at the College or the expansive Nichol, who was perfectly comfortable running for Congress and the Senate and treating the faculty and students of the College to a South Texas cornpone charm offensive.

Nichol was selected to serve beginning in July 2005. His position was difficult. Sullivan, his predecessor, had been an alum of William and Mary, married to an alumna, a Vietnam veteran, a Harvard law graduate, a high official under Virginia’s Governor Robb, a dean at the William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe Law School, and both popular and effective as a fund raiser and for his ability to get appropriations from the Virginia legislature. Fortunately Sullivan supported Nichol’s candidacy. He had been Nichol’s boss when Nichol had been head of a Bill of Rights Center at the W&M law school.

Continue reading Trainwreck At William And Mary

Thanks, Hank!

In his brief tenure as president of the University of Colorado, former U.S. Senator and ACTA National Council member Hank Brown – who stepped down this past weekend – managed to leave an indelible mark on CU and higher education generally.

Taking the reins in the wake of a number of scandals, Brown established a national model for institutional responsibility. Under his leadership, CU vigorously stood up for academic excellence and accountability. And the steps taken – committing to intellectual diversity at the board level, tackling grade inflation, and performing a groundbreaking review of the tenure process – offer presidents and boards across the country an unmatched illustration of ways to ensure quality education for students and taxpayers.

In tackling the challenges before him, Brown also set an example for presidential leadership. CU’s handling of the investigation and subsequent firing of Professor Ward Churchill was praiseworthy in its focus on due process and its fundamental understanding that academic standards are best set and enforced by academics themselves. At the same time, Brown understood and acknowledged the urgent need for higher education to be accountable to those who support it – and the important role citizens and alumni can play in demanding that their alma maters live up to their highest ideals.
Indeed, Brown’s belief in the importance of outside input underscored his early support of outside input. It’s gratifying indeed to review the prescient Roll Call article he wrote back in 1995 – along with his Senate colleague Joe Lieberman – underscoring the importance of alumni and trustee voices and acknowledging that “[c]ampus political pressures often make it difficult for those on campus to defend academic freedom.”

Continue reading Thanks, Hank!

No Quarter For Nichol

Although the mainstream media would have you believe he was a martyr to religious fundamentalists and moral Pecksniffs, Gene Nichol lost his job as president of the College of William and Mary in Virginia for only one reason: he was a lousy administrator who seemed not to be able to get it into his head that one of the main jobs of a college president is to raise money from alumni and others and thus to cultivate good public relations for the institution he represents. Nichol seemed to think that he had been hired by the college’s governing Board of Visitors in 2005 to thumb his nose at sundry traditionalists, and his in-your-face actions cost William and Mary at least one $12 million donation along with a great deal of good will among Virginia citizens toward the venerable and highly rated liberal-arts school.

Yes, William and Mary, located adjacent to the famous colonial-days tourist site in Williamsburg, Va., is a state-run institution, as Nichol never ceased reminding the many critics of his unilateral decision last November to remove a 70-year-old cross from the altar of the college’s historic Wren Chapel, which dates almost to the college’s founding in 1693. Like many quality state schools, William and Mary is highly dependent on private donations to cover its costs, especially since the state of Virginia has been steadily reducing its contribution to the college’s budget, cutting $3 million in 2007. Alumni and generous Virginia citizens are important stakeholders at William and Mary.

The cross, donated to the chapel by a William and Mary alumnus in 1931 and symbolizing William and Mary’s Anglican heritage, had been the subject of no known complaints by students. The Wren Chapel has been regularly used for non-Christian religious services as well as secular functions for several decades, and when non-Christians used the space, they simply removed the cross temporarily. Nichol decided, in the fall of 2006, without consulting anyone, that the cross violated the First Amendment’s ban on establishment of religion so he had it removed. After a huge uproar among students, alumni, and members of the Board of Visitors, Nichol allowed the return of the cross, although in a glass display case.

Continue reading No Quarter For Nichol

Controversy In Colorado – Resolved?

Bruce Benson, the wealthy oil and gas executive and conservative Republican activist, was approved Wednesday as president of the University of Colorado in a straight party-line vote of the board of regents. All six Republicans voted for Benson. All three Democrats voted no.
(see Controversy In Colorado)

More Controversy In Colorado

Bruce Benson, a wealthy Republican businessman, is off to a bad start as the nominee for president of the three-campus University of Colorado system. One objection is that he lacks a Ph.D., which is unusual, but not unheard of. Dwight Eisenhower ruffled few feathers as president of Columbia University before his run for the presidency. Eighteen sitting presidents of Canadian colleges and universities have no doctorate. Benson, owner and president of the Benson Mineral Group, abandoned postgraduate work to pursue a career in oil and gas. Though he has only a B.A., he has a long list of credits as a supporter of higher education at the University of Colorado, Smith College, the University of Denver and the Metropolitan State College of Denver. Still, the Boulder faculty assembly voted 40-4 to reject Benson. Chairman Uriel Nauenberg said the issue is not Benson’s lack of a doctorate, but rather “a lack of managerial experience in an academic institution.” Many students are roiled over the Benson nomination, particularly his involvement in oil and his doubts about global warming. A “Boycott Bruce Benson” web site is in operation. Benson still has to be confirmed by the regents.

The real objection to Benson is that he is a Republican politician named primarily because of his success as a fund-raiser. Like Hank Brown, the retiring president of the University of Colorado, Benson has been a conspicuously conservative activist. He was national co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. On the fund-raising front, he chaired a billion-dollar campaign for the university and successfully lobbied for a state law to give universities more money. The University of Colorado has a $2 billion annual budget and state funding covers only $180 million. As many see it, his primary job is to use his political connections to squeeze more money out of the legislature in hard times.

Conservatives are hoping he will do more than that. The university has been reeling for years from a variety of crises, from the lingering rape scandals involving university athletes to the Ward Churchill affair and the bruising fight over David Horowitz’s academic bill of rights. The conservatives want him to take charge of the university and its stature as a left-wing outpost that created and tolerated fashionable crazies like Ward Churchill. But so far, Benson has not given conservatives much reason to support him. His question-and-answer sessions with faculty and students have not gone well. Asked his position of shared governance of the campuses, he replied, “What’s that?” Worse, he has positioned himself as the narrow fund-raiser his critics believe him to be. Benson said: “People say, ‘what are the most important issues?’ I say, funding, funding, funding. I don’t think you need to have a Ph.D. in anything to talk to legislators and raise money. We have highly educated chancellors. I will work with them.” No cheer there for those who believe that funding can’t be the number one, number two and number three major issues on our troubled campuses.

Tufts Likes Free Speech, Sort Of…

Consider the unbelievable obtuseness of Lawrence Bacow, president of Tufts University. Bacow talks endlessly about how he and Tufts revere the principle of free speech. Last spring someone at Tufts apparently induced New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his commencement speech, to congratulate the university for its fierce protection of free expression. Yet that protection is somewhere between tepid and imaginary at Tufts. The university is one of only three American campuses on the red-alert list of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for violating the principle of free speech. FIRE president Greg Lukianoff writes: “Red Alert is limited to those especially intransigent schools that have seriously wronged students, have not backed down, and seem an on-going threat in the future. Most other schools back down or get beaten.”

The issue is the university’s finding that the student journal The Primary Source was guilty of harassment and the creation of a hostile environment for publishing two political satires, one a parody of Islamic Awareness Week, the other a mock carol headlined “O Come All Ye Black Folk.” To its credit, Tufts rescinded its punishment of the students involved, but it has refused to rescind the finding of hostile environment harassment. In response to FIRE’s latest letter to Tufts, President Bacow once again dodged the issue of rescinding the harassment finding. Numerous times, he wrote to Lukianoff, “I have said that the appropriate response to offensive speech is more speech…” Another appropriate response is not to label free speech as harassment because it hurts the feelings of a protected group.
Bacow can be reached at bacow@tufts.edu

Duke’s Failed Presidency

KC Johnson’s remarkable blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, has generated 90,000 reader comments since it emerged as the most reliable source of information and analysis on the Duke/Nifong non-rape scandal. The following is an excerpt from a November 6 reader comment on Duke’s president Richard Brodhead and the book, “Until Proven Innocent” by Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. The “Group Profiles” in the comment refer to Johnson’s devastating accounts of what some intellectually bankrupt members of the “Group of 88” Duke faculty members said and wrote before and after they launched their campaign against the lacrosse players. So far 87 of the 88 faculty members have not yet apologized for their role in stirring up the campus against the players.

A good deal has changed because of this Rape Hoax.
1. Richard Brodhead’s is a failed presidency. Everybody in higher education knows that, which is why practically nobody in higher education will say it. He will not disappear immediately, but he will disappear. And I mean disappear – not reappear as the president of some other institution. This may not be fair to Brodhead, who is an able person, and his successor is unlikely to be better. But nobody who has presided over such a genuine ‘social disaster’ can recover. And people will in the future reflect on why and how he failed.

2. Another development on the local Duke scene is the ‘raised consciousness’ of sensible alumni and institutional friends. There is a large effort from various sources trying to blunt the effect of this blog and what it has represented. To paint Duke’s critics as neocon, reactionary, racist ‘blog hooligans’ will now work for only a very diminished audience. There now is a very detailed, circumstantial, well researched and well written book that needs to be answered… Any intelligent Duke alumnus of whatever age should now realize that he or she probably has more sensible and constructive ideas than many prominent Duke faculty.

3. Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members through various posting and especially the ‘Group Profiles’. These were particularly effective, because they were not name-calling but intelligently collected anthologies of the individuals’ own written opinions. It is one thing to shout out that ‘the Emperor has no clothes.’ It is another to present the Emperor in the buff before our own horrified eyes.

The ROTC Is Not Invited At Harvard

Drew Faust’s inauguration as Harvard President last Friday featured a surprising presence: the Harvard ROTC. The ROTC, which has been banned from the Harvard campus since 1969, formed a closing color guard composed of Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force students. Most wouldn’t have expected Faust to invite the ROTC – and they’d be right – she didn’t invite them. Their appearance was arranged through a request from the cadets themselves. And they were far from sure of the response; the Harvard Crimson, writing on the topic, noted that “ROTC members did not originally plan to propose the idea to Faust because they did not expect her to be interested.” Faust was receptive, however, and the closing color guard was arranged.
This appearance struck against fears that, after significant outreach to the ROTC during the Summers years, the organization would again be marginalized. Summers’ stance was hardly popular. Harvey Mansfield observed that “Summers made it clear that one of his desires on becoming President was to return ROTC to campus.” He was the first President in decades to attend ROTC commissioning ceremonies each year, where he conveyed unambiguous messages of support for the cadets. He “spoke strongly and clearly wanted things to change” a stance, Mansfield observes, that did not endear him to many at Harvard.

After the Summers experience, it was widely expected that Harvard would resume a more uniformly hostile stance towards ROTC. Neither incoming President Faust nor interim President Derek Bok attended this year’s ROTC commissioning ceremony. Stephen Rosen, the Kaneb Professor of National Security and Military Affairs, expressed a widely-recognized truth about the university at that gathering: “Harvard.. is uneasy with national military service, because it is uneasy with war, and with warriors, and it is no longer comfortable with the idea of Harvard as an American university, as opposed to an international university.”

Continue reading The ROTC Is Not Invited At Harvard

Robert Dynes An Example Of Larger UC Problem

[This piece also appeared in the San Francisco Examiner]

Robert (Bob) Dynes is president of the University of California (UC) – and has been in that position since October, 2003. During my tenure as a member of the Board of Regents of UC, I worked with Bob while he was chancellor of the campus at San Diego and during his reign as president of the entire UC system. Bob Dynes has excellent credentials as a physicist and he is a very decent human being. But, in announcing his retirement from the UC presidency. Bob is doing something he should have done the day he was selected to head the UC system. In fact, it was a mistake from the outset to select him, for which I am just as responsible as all of the other regents.

Some contend that Dynes was “encouraged” to resign by the regents because of his handling of administrative compensation and other “perks.” This is undoubtedly true. Yet, while his departure is the right decision, the mishandling of executive compensation or the perception of him as a weak administrator are the wrong reasons for “encouraging” him to ride off into the sunset. It would be useful to examine some of the problems at UC.

Continue reading Robert Dynes An Example Of Larger UC Problem