Former president of Tufts to become president of Harvard

White smoke wafted above the steeples of Harvard Yard today as Harvard announced its new president: Lawrence Bacow, who spent ten years as president of nearby Tufts and 24 years as a professor at nearby MIT.

He is the university's 29th president in its 381-year history.

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I'm glad

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that Harvard saw the light and hired someone from MIT to be president.

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Ha!

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Ha!

The light? You mean they got boondoggled as well.

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Bacow's time as chancellor at MIT was marked with a distinct downturn in relations between administration and student body - an erosion of comity and trust that persists to this day. Much of what has made MIT's culture exceptional was diminished during his tenure. I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness this in real time as both a former MIT student and MIT corporate liaison.

I have to wonder why so many of the stories about his new job are leaving out the fact that he just pulled a huge Dick Cheney on Harvard - ie, he was part of the presidential search committee that chose him as president, after years of denying he wanted the job!

Harvard just got gamed.

Phew

Well, it's nice to see that after a brief flirtation with the barest appearance of an interest in diversity, dear old Harvard has gone back to its comfort zone.

There's very little diversity

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There's very little diversity in the older, whiter, male spheres of Higher Education. Let's not pretend they hired an older white man who was a janitor for a while, started a business, went back to MIT later in life and found a calling in academics.

This is a pretty bog standard old white guy in Academia moving up the Academia ladder. He may be alright, but acting like he's bringing any unique or diverse background to Harvard is a bit of a laugh. He's spent his entire life and career deeply entrenched in white guy Boston academia.

Hah!

Deliberate obfuscation of the term "diversity." No points, try harder.

Yes, my thoughts exactly

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My first thought was, "Thank goodness they were able to find a white guy to do the job!" Harvard's commitment to diversity (despite the President's Taskforce on Inclusion and Belonging) is very shallow indeed.

I don't know much about the

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I don't know much about the makeup of the Harvard leadership, but it seems a little unfair to ding the school on diversity. The Harvard College student body is now majority non-white, and they've clearly made a commitment to ethnic and social diversity. They have the most general financial aid around, allowing hardworking students to apply without regard for ability to pay. The Ivies aren't what they were in 1950 or even 1990, folks (and that's a good thing!)

I looked it up online. 'Non

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I looked it up online. 'Non-resident alien' is at 12%, and I'm guessing a few of them are white. 10% are listed as Hispanic/Latino, and 50% of "Latinos' self-identify as 'white' when given the chance. 16.6% Asian, and that would be higher if Harvard didn't discriminate against them. And 45% 'White.' Leaving 6% 'Black' and less than 1% 'Other.'

Given that no one is claiming that Asians are being kept out of higher ed out of racial prejudice (other than the Harvard type), Your good numbers seem rather diluted.

I looked it up online. 'Non

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I looked it up online. 'Non-resident alien' is at 12%, and I'm guessing a few of them are white. 10% are listed as Hispanic/Latino, and 50% of "Latinos' self-identify as 'white' when given the chance. 16.6% Asian, and that would be higher if Harvard didn't discriminate against them. And 45% 'White.' Leaving 6% 'Black' and less than 1% 'Other.'

Given that no one is claiming that Asians are being kept out of higher ed out of racial prejudice (other than the Harvard type), Your good numbers seem rather diluted.

Harvard's a big place

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No one will argue that the College has a more diverse student body than ever (and that is a good thing). From where I stand, I don't see a lot of diversity among staff, faculty, and leadership in the University. Harvard had an opportunity to put their diversity money where their mouth is, but instead went with an extremely traditional choice for the new president. I'm not a Harvard hater, but I find the presidential choice very disappointing.

Diversity where it counts

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This is a fair enough point. It would be interesting to see how diverse the faculty and staff actually are (and I bet they do extremely well in this area because the H name alone can attract the most talented diverse faculty).

But I would still maintain that to the extent we care about diversity and its benefits (and the benefits of achieving a Harvard degree) what we really ought to focus on is diversity of the student body. Having a leader from an underrepresented background is a good thing, but if the university is doing good work on the ground with admissions, any kind of cynical figurehead picking just for diversity points doesn't do much. University presidents need to be good managers and fundraisers - that can help make the student body more diverse and help everyone in the long run.