What's So Great About Harvard?
Harvard University is known for providing its undergraduates with an unexpectedly high number of graduate assistants as teachers rather than professors because, apparently, the profs are too busy with more important things than teaching.
Now those poor kids can’t get a hot breakfast, a near tragedy that has just become the subject of numerous media accounts. Why is this, at a school where tuition is $33,696 for undergraduates this year and the total package (including room, board and student services fee) is $48,868?
Because of budget cuts. They were instituted after money managers at America's--and perhaps the Milky Way's--wealthiest university made lousy investments with money in the endowment and it plunged about 27 percent (far more than most other schools).
The endowment is still worth more than $26 billion--yes, that’s BILLION--but, school officials say, these funds are legally tied up and can’t be spent for things such as hot cereal. That's why there were layoffs of several hundred people this year, too.
The Answer Sheet is not privy to the details of the university’s budget but is reasonably sure that there was some other way to deal with the loss than taking away hot oatmeal and complimentary cookies at faculty meetings. (All is not lost, however, as faculty can still get free tea and coffee.)
The Answer Sheet is not a Harvard graduate, but here's what one said:
“It’s a sign of misplaced priorities and excessive deference to celebrity faculty that [history professor] Niall Ferguson can get paid what he gets paid [reportedly a few hundred thousand dollars], while interacting with undergraduates once in a blue moon, but the university feels the need to cut back on essentials of college life. I don’t necessarily blame that on [Harvard President] Drew Faust, but the administration is consistently cutting where it’s easy, not where it’s right.”
We all know that Harvard has assembled a stunning group of fine minds, does cutting edge research and offers some magnificent programs.
But is it time to stop talking about Harvard as if it stands alone as the platinum standard for higher education?
And as high school seniors go through the application process for college, it would be wise for them to remember that there are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful schools--not only where hot breakfasts are served and full professors teach freshmen, but that can change lives.
My colleague Jay Mathews wrote a book called “Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for You.” Read it. And you can learn about some wonderful schools that you may have never heard at the Web site of “Colleges That Changes Lives.”
Do you think Harvard’s reputation is deserved?
(By the way, hot breakfasts seem to be a recurring thing at Harvard. Back in the late 1970s, hot breakfasts were taken away from some eating halls and students voted on whether to bring them back to all of them. The vote, believe it or not, was evenly split.
Maybe hot breakfasts aren’t all they are cracked up to be.)
| October 9, 2009; 11:46 AM ET
Categories: Higher Education | Tags: Harvard University
Save & Share: Previous: A New World Ranking Of Top Universities--And Why Such Lists Are Nonsense
Next: College Pays Students NOT to Attend ... (And More Things I Learned This Week)
Posted by: rrap1 | October 9, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: laura33 | October 9, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: knoxelcomcastnet | October 9, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: charlietuna6661 | October 10, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: patrickmattimore1 | October 11, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: w08white | October 12, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.