February 24, 2006

LARRY SUMMERS: Faculty hated him, but students love him:

If Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers was worried about how the undergraduates would greet him Wednesday night at his first scheduled event since announcing his resignation, those fears quickly were put to rest.

He got a standing ovation after he walked in. He got a standing ovation before he left. A row of students with red letters painted on their chests spelled out “Larry.” . . .

The show of student loyalty has come as a surprise to many faculty members and administrators at Harvard, who grew to loathe Summers during a five-year tenure that brought a raw blast of politics to the 370-year-old institution.

It’s not surprising. Students have a much longer-term interest in Harvard’s reputational capital than do faculty. Thus they have more reason to support someone who wants to fix the place. But then there’s also this take:

“The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty,” he said. “That’s what’s happened.”

Obviously, Harvard needs to diversify its faculty.