Yes, $16 per Muffin

In 2009, reeling from the shrinkage in its $32 billion endowment, Harvard moved to slash costs by cutting back on the cookies served at faculty meetings. Eliminating the cookies, we were told, saved $500 per meeting, thus raising the obvious question of whether the Harvard faculty was obtaining its pastries from the wholesaler who supplied the $600 Pentagon toilet seats and the $434 Pentagon hammers.

But now Harvard and the Pentagon are off the hook: the New York Times reports that snacks at a Justice Department conference to train immigration lawyers in August 2009 cost taxpayers more than $16 per muffin, nearly $10 per cookie or brownie, plus $5.57 each for 1,334 cans of soda. The $500 cookie spreads are back at Harvard, by the way. Harvard investments are doing so well that the faculty can afford them once again.

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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