Wednesday, June 07, 2006

From Rumsfeld to Summers

One topic I have resisted the temptation to write about over the past few months has been the series of debacles at my graduate alma mater, Harvard. From the College's acceptance of a $20 million grant from a shady Saudi prince, to the malacious and sloppy anti-Israel essay written by one of my thesis advisors, it's been hard to find much to take pride in regarding Harvard lately.

However, perhaps the most lasting damage to Harvard will come from the forced resignation of President Summers after a vote of no confidence from the Liberal Arts faculty. I firmly believe Summers was right:
-To fight rampant grade inflation at Harvard (as a Teaching Assistant, I once had a freshman come to my office hours to protest an A-);
-To argue that even tenured professors should concentrate more on academics than producing rap albums;
-To fight against the "Divest from Israel" movement in academia;
-To suggest that men and women may have innate differences in cognitive processes (or at least is right to suggest this as a legitimate line of theoretical inquiry); and finally,
-For supporting the return of ROTC to Harvard's campus after being chased off by radicals during the Vietnam War.

Relating to this final point, The Weekly Standard has posted a letter of appreciation recently sent to President Summers by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

It is not often that a sitting Republican SecDef goes out of his way to pay tribute to a member of a Democratic administration's cabinet (or vice-versa, for that matter). Whatever else he has done with which one might disagree -- and big surprise, I tend to agree with him more often than not -- this was a very classy gesture by Secretary Rumsfeld.

For all his faults and admittedly brusque style, Harvard Yard will be a poorer place for Summers' departure. The faculty's actions in driving him out will do more to diminish the institution rather than the individual.