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Third-Rate Governance for First-Rate Universities


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Law & Liberty


The resignation of Claudine Gay provides a window into many pathologies of elite universitiesantisemitism on campus, the prioritization of DEI over merit, and plagiarism among academics. But it also reflects their poor governance. The Harvard Corporation made mistake after mistake—first, in deciding to hire Gay, then, in defending her after a disastrous performance before Congress and substantial allegations of plagiarism. They even hired lawyers to threaten the media who were disseminating the truth about her research. Before the choice of Gay, the Corporation had permitted identity politics rather than merit to become such a comprehensive governing principle for Harvard that an objectively absurd candidate like Gay could seem a logical choice.

Governance at elite universities is insular, unaccountable, and marred by conflicts of interest that prevent it from being focused on the historic mission of the university, encapsulated on Harvard’s coat of arms: seeking truth. Many nonprofits face similar structural difficulties that create a gap between the performance of their leadership and the fulfillment of their mission, but elite universities face added difficulties. They are so wealthy and market forces in elite higher education are so weak that there is no continuous pressure disciplining their behavior. Moreover, the returns in prestige and other benefits from being on an elite board of trustees are so substantial that members pull their punches to stay in the good graces of their fellows.

Only when some cataclysmic event like the Hamas massacre prompts campus upheaval, and only when a group of activists like Christopher Rufo, Aaron Sibarium, and Bill Ackman take advantage of it will the boards of these universities be called to account. And a reckoning is in order. Better governance structures would help improve universities without the dangers created by direct intervention by the state or periodic, short-lived populist eruptions.

The Roots of the University Governance Problem

As with many boards of trustees that oversee universities, the Harvard Corporation is wholly self-perpetuating. When someone retires, his or her colleagues elect his or her successor. Some elite universities do set aside a few trustee positions to be elected by the alumni, but these are not open elections. The alumni who run for these spots are chosen by the nominating committees, which are usually close to the university administration. While it is possible to challenge these nominees with an insurgent, the likelihood of beating the slate with an official imprimatur is slim, and such challenges are rare. For instance, a challenger at Yale in 2021 was the first in nineteen years.

Because of the restricted selections process, most elite university boards of trustees are birds of a feather—chosen for their social and ideological compatibility, resulting in group think, however diverse the ethnicity and gender of their members may be. At poorer universities and other nonprofits scrounging for support, the need for big donors provides a check on this insularity. The rich, particularly the newly rich who are especially grateful to their alma mater, made their money from a variety of industries and are likely to have more diverse views of the world.:snip:

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Treason of the intellectuals, American edition

Scott Johnson

Jan. 25 2024

Reading the eminent historian Niall Ferguson’s great Free Press column “The treason of the intellectuals” last month, I was struck by this passage:

It might be thought extraordinary that the most prestigious universities in the world should have been infected so rapidly with a politics imbued with antisemitism. Yet exactly the same thing has happened before.

A hundred years ago, in the 1920s, by far the best universities in the world were in Germany. By comparison with Heidelberg and Tübingen, Harvard and Yale were gentlemen’s clubs, where students paid more attention to football than to physics. More than a quarter of all the Nobel prizes awarded in the sciences between 1901 and 1940 were awarded to Germans; only 11 percent went to Americans. Albert Einstein reached the pinnacle of his profession not in 1933, when he moved to Princeton, but from 1914 to 1917, when he was appointed professor at the University of Berlin, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, and as a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Even the finest scientists produced by Cambridge felt obliged to do a tour of duty in Germany.

I thought of Martin Heidegger and Ferguson fleshed out the thought:



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Jan 23, 2024 #DEI #UnHerd #harvard

Amid the fallout of the Ivy League plagiarism scandal and resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, UnHerd invites free-thinking philosophy professors to answer the question: can the university system be saved?

Join Peter Boghossian, author of ‘How to Have Impossible Conversations’, former Sussex professor and author of ‘Material Girls’ Kathleen Stock and Cambridge scholar James Orr, for an evening of conversation and Q&A.


Top  Comment

1 day ago
I would like to complement everyone involved in this event. A massively complex subject, so while depth could not be a yardstick, the management of the group, the disciplined open disagreements amongst the panel and the amount of engagement were very good.

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Harvard Employee Harasses Jewish Student Suing School For Anti-Semitism, Asks To Debate 9/11 Conspiracies

The employee told the student that if he didn't show up, he'd 'use a puppet or potted plant to represent' him in the debate
Kassy Dillon
Jan 26, 2024

A Harvard University employee challenged a Jewish student who is currently suing the Ivy league school over anti-Semitism to a debate on Israel’s role in 9/11, according to a copy of the harassing email obtained by The Daily Wire. 







Gustavo Espado posted 9/11 conspiracy theories to his X account.

A X account that appears to belong to Espada, with account name “9/11 Guy” posted at Kestenbaum Thursday defending the vandalism on the posters that blames Israel for 9/11. 


Espada called for Israel to “be wiped off the map” on January 20, 2024.

“Why, because I think Israel should be wiped off the map for what it’s done around the world?” he posted. “I think what I am is an ‘antisemite’ because I have no problem with Jews per se, just the ones who think there’s a different set of rules for them.”


Harvard employee Gustavo Espado called for the destruction of Israel in a post to X.

He questioned the legitimacy of Hamas’s October 7 attack against Israeli civilians, tweeting, “IDF helicopter fired into kibbutz. No beheaded babies. What if any part of 10/7 is real?”

In a video Espada posted of himself in Harvard Square, he shouted at police officers and chants “From the River to the Sea,” and “Globalize the intifada.”



Someone  needs an Ass Whuppin

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Jan 30, 2024 #foxnews

MikeRoweWorks Foundation CEO Mike Rowe examines problems facing American families when paying for child care and considering higher education.

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  • 1 month later...

The man was held back by his colleague while screaming at the Israeli man
Kassy Dillon
Mar 20, 2024

A Harvard University employee was caught on camera acting aggressively after being caught on camera ripping down posters of Israeli hostages held by terrorists in Gaza on Wednesday morning.



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