February 13, 2018

2018 RADICAL MAN: Harvard’s New President Could Extend Diversity To Encompass Ideology.

From Ira Stoll’s open letter to new Harvard President Lawrence Bacow:

The boldest response might be actually to make some adjustments to the university. That doesn’t mean surrendering principles. But it could mean doing some things differently. As you told a University of California audience last year, “if you’re not managing change, you’re not leading, you’re presiding.”

What might that mean in Harvard’s case? It could mean redefining the emphasis on diversity beyond race and gender also to encompass ideology. It could mean reaching even more students via online courses and the extension school, so that the university shifts its measurement of success away from how many tens of thousands of applicants it rejects, and toward how many it educates.

It could mean expanding geographically beyond relatively prosperous, and politically liberal, Cambridge and Boston, toward more economically challenged and politically diverse parts of the state. Tufts has a veterinary school in Grafton, Mass. and its medical school founded a rural community health center in the Mississippi Delta. Harvard has a forest in Petersham.

With NYU operating in Abu Dhabi, Cornell in Qatar, and Yale collaborating on a college in Singapore, it’s harder to make the case that Petersham, in Central Mass., or even, say, Pittsfield, in Western Mass., are so remote from Cambridge that ramping up activity there would prevent effective control or definitely dilute the brand.

A similar case has been made for moving Federal agencies far beyond Washington.