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Harvard’s New President Could Extend Diversity To Encompass Ideology


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February 12, 2018

Dear Lawrence Bacow: Congratulations on being named as the next president of Harvard University. I am hoping that you are a huge success in the new job. I have a Harvard degree and own a house in Boston, and the value of both those assets may fluctuate depending on your success or failure.

Also, you mentioned in the introductory video that your father was a Jewish immigrant to America from Minsk. One of my own grandfathers was also a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, so I feel like I have even more of a personal stake.


One of your biggest challenges will be to figure out what to do about the fact that, to overstate it just a bit, the half of the country that voted for Trump basically hates Harvard. And it’s not because they went to Yale.

Some people will advise you to wait it out. Eventually, in two, four, or six years, the Democrats will take back Congress and the White House. Instead of new taxes and investigations coming from Washington, there will again be invitations to state dinners and increases in research funding.

This problem, though, didn’t begin with the Trump administration. It dates back at least to 1987, when Allan Bloom published “The Closing of the American Mind,” and Dinesh D’Souza’s “Illiberal Education,” published in 1991. Perhaps it even goes back to William Buckley’s 1951 “God and Man at Yale.” It’s not a quarrel that’s going to be solved by the application of patience.


Repairing the reputation of private research universities may not be a presidential “problem” in the classic academic sense that, say, precision medicine or nanotechnology might be. But it’s a job too important to leave to mere lobbyists. Good luck with it.


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