What is the purpose of a higher education? Why does it cost so much? And how come college campuses seem to be so left-leaning? On this episode of Banter, Harvard president Larry Bacow joined us to discuss. Dr. Bacow is the president of Harvard University and one of higher education’s most widely experienced leaders. From 2001 to 2011, he was president of Tufts University and before that he spent 24 years on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds an S.B. in economics from MIT, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Ph.D. in public policy from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


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  1. Henry Racette Contributor

    At about 14:30, when disputing the claim that the University lacks ideological diversity, your guest says:

    “I also think that when we go to hire somebody who’s going to teach linear algebra, we shouldn’t be asking her what her voting patterns are.”

    My immediate thought was, well of course not: what’s important about a teacher of linear algebra is that he understands linear algebra. But my immediate second thought was to wonder why your guest picked that particular subject — or, for that matter, any subject. Why qualify it at all? I suspect it’s because the ideological litmus test has its place at Harvard, just not in the STEM classes.

    On that topic, I would have liked to have heard your guest comment on an article that appeared earlier this month in the Harvard Crimson, a representative paragraph of which is:

    Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers have contributed overwhelmingly to federal Democratic campaigns and political organizations, according to a 2015 Crimson analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. A 2018 Crimson survey of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences revealed that the vast majority of respondents identified as “liberal” or “very liberal,” with a similarly large majority having voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

    In light of this and similar reports, hearing your guest talk about “ideological diversity” strikes me as about as plausible as the president of a school with a student body that is 95% white praising its “racial diversity.”


    Ah, but I see that this is a February podcast, so of course that article in the Crimson had not yet come out. However, the surveys underlying it had: Harvard’s lack of ideological diversity at the faculty and administrative level is old news. It also seems, to me, to be pretty much incontrovertible.

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    • March 13, 2019, at 6:58 PM PDT
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