— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) August 15, 2014
A team of engineers at Harvard and MIT have designed and built a flat-packed robot that assembles itself and walks away. Learn more at http://hvrd.me/A2mM9
American colleges are fraught with petty politics and bad economics
For USA Today, Glenn Reynolds writes: As college graduates around the country fling their caps into the air, college and university administrators are ending the year in a less positive state. It has been a tough year for higher education in America, and it’s not especially likely that next year will be a lot better. As an industry, higher education is beset with problems, problems that for the most part aren’t being addressed.
[Glenn Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]
One set of problems is economic. With tuitions climbing, and graduates’ salariesstagnant, students (and parents) are becoming less willing to pay top dollar. This has caused some schools — especially expensive private institutions that lack first-class reputations — to face real hardships. Yeshiva University’s bonds have beendowngraded to the status of junk. Credit downgrades have also hit several elite liberal arts colleges. Other private schools, such as Quinnipiac College, are actuallylaying off faculty. Georgetown in Kentucky cut faculty by 20%.
“If I understand college administrators correctly, colleges are hotbeds of racism and rape that everyone should be able to attend.”
It’s no picnic for public institutions either. “There have been 21 downgrades of public colleges and universities this year but no upgrades,” reported Inside Higher Ed. It’s gotten so bad that schools are even closing their gender studies centers, a once-sacrosanct kind of spending. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Federalist, M.G. Oprea writes: Harvard student Sandra Y.L. Korn recently proposed in The Harvard Crimson that academics should be stopped if their research is deemed oppressive. Arguing that “academic justice” should replace “academic freedom,” she writes:
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?”
In other words, Korn would have the university cease to be a forum for open debate and free inquiry in the name of justice, as defined by mainstream liberal academia.
“This does not mean that westerners are excluded from writing about the Middle East and Islam .A westerner can do so successfully so long as their research is void of criticism. Write anything else and you will find yourself labeled an orientalist and no graduate course will touch your work with a ten-foot pole.”
Unfortunately, this is already a reality in most universities across America, where academics and university administrators alike are trying, often successfully, to discredit and prohibit certain ideas and ways of thinking. Particularly in the humanities, many ideas are no longer considered legitimate, and debate over them is de facto non-existent. In order to delegitimize researchers who are out of line, academics brand them with one of several terms that have emerged from social science theory.
Robby Soave writes: If this Harvard University student got her way, free speech on campus would be abolished and professors with dissenting views fired, because radical leftism is the only permissible political philosophy and the First Amendment is a barrier preventing modern colleges from fulfilling their proper role as indoctrination camps.
In a recent column, Korn unambiguously insisted that the university should stop guaranteeing professors and students the right to hold controversial views and pursue research that challenges liberalism.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals?” asked Korn in her column.
The column’s subtitle was even more direct: “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice.”
CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Harvard University is evacuating four buildings on campus after unconfirmed reports of explosives.
Harvard tweeted this message just after 9 a.m:
Alert: Unconfirmed reports of explosives at four sites on campus: Science Center, Thayer, Sever, and Emerson. Evacuate those buildings now.
The university followed with another tweet saying, “There have been NO reports of explosions.”
Harvard said the buildings were evacuated “out of an abundance of caution,” while the unconfirmed reports were investigated.
Students are still on campus for exams this week, the managing editor of the campus newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, told WBZ-TV.
Employees were also alerted via automated phone message this morning.
No other details are available at this point.
You’ve heard of Canada, right? It’s that large country directly north of the United States where they play hockey and make ginger ale.
Could you name its capital? Most of these Harvard students couldn’t.
Nearly half of the school’s incoming freshmen admitted to cheating on homework, exams or other assignments in their young academic careers, according to a survey by the Ivy League institution’s student newspaper.
“Some of the newest members of that community are already guilty of academic dishonesty,” The Harvard Crimson declared in its summary of the findings. Read the rest of this entry »
By Steve Kolowich
Less than three months after Harvard University administrators admitted to signing off on secret searches in the e-mail accounts of more than a dozen resident deans as part of a cheating investigation, one leader implicated in those controversial searches is stepping down.
Evelynn M. Hammonds, dean of Harvard College, the university’s main undergraduate division, will leave her post at beginning of July, the university announced on Tuesday.
Ms. Hammonds, who has led Harvard College for five years, found herself at the center of a scandal-within-a-scandal after trying to plug a leak in a university inquiry into a cheating debacle that prompted dozens of undergraduates to withdraw from the college.
Ms. Hammonds and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, last fall authorized searches of the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans without informing them first.
The resident deans, faculty members who reside in undergraduate housing and oversee the students who also live there, sit on a committee charged with investigating the cheating scandal. Ms. Hammond and Mr. Smith suspected that one resident dean had leaked confidential information about the investigation to the news media, according to The Boston Globe.
Those suspicions turned out to be correct. But Ms. Hammonds and Mr. Smith failed to inform most of the deans—namely, the ones whom the searches had exonerated—that any search had occurred until much later. That delay was a violation of Harvard’s e-mail policy, which requires that faculty members be informed immediately if their accounts have been searched.
Complicating matters, it came out later that Ms. Hammonds herself had authorized additional searches of e-mail accounts of the dean who had leaked the confidential information. That step escalated tensions with faculty members over privacy rights.
Ms. Hammonds said repeatedly that her only intention had been to protect the privacy of the students being investigated for cheating. She nonetheless apologized to the professors for overstepping their own privacy boundaries in the process.
Ms. Hammonds, who is a professor of the history of science and of African-American studies, will return to her faculty post following a sabbatical, Harvard officials said on Tuesday in a news release, which enumerated Ms. Hammonds’s achievements as dean and made no mention of the e-mail scandal.
When she returns, officials said, Ms. Hammonds will head a new program at Harvard to study the intersection of race, science, and medicine.
The most important question in this year’s presidential election is not “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” or “What about your gaffes?” or even “Joe Biden said what?” No, the key inquiry comes from none other than John Cusack, the eternally boyish star of Say Anything, Grosse Pointe Blank, and High Fidelity, who asked on the leftist site Truthout.org: “Is Obama just another Ivy League ***hole?”
Most National Review readers would be inclined to say yes, though they might not put it quite so vividly. But the salient part of Cusack’s question lies in the words “just another.” Ever since Ronald Reagan, a Eureka College graduate, rode off into the sunset, the ensuing run of presidents has been distinctly mediocre — and all have been Ivy graduates (college or law school). Regardless of who wins this November, the streak will continue, since Mitt Romney (though he may not entirely fit the Ivy mold) has law and business degrees from Harvard. Is Cusack, an NYU dropout, onto something?
Before proceeding further, I should explain what the Ivy League is. Officially, it’s a group of eight colleges in the Northeast (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) that play football against one another, rather badly. It was not formally organized until the early 1950s, when the reaction from Harvard was probably, “Wait a minute, we’re in with who?” (Actually it would more likely have been whom.)
Unofficially, of course, the Ivy League, even avant la lettre, has for centuries been a symbol of everything Middle America hates: rich, snobbish, exclusive, Eastern, and too smart for its own good. With the exception of Cornell, a post–Civil War parvenu, the schools were all founded before the Revolution, and ever since, they have been filling the ranks of America’s Establishment: intellectuals, bankers, lawyers, businessmen — and now, increasingly, presidents.
In that capacity, their record has been decidedly mixed. To be sure, the Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin, both Harvard grads) managed to stay highly popular while taking bold actions that changed the country and the world, for good and for ill; but if you look at the last 50-odd years of presidents, starting with JFK, the Ivy grads have been talkers and dreamers, while the non-Ivy grads have been doers. LBJ (San Marcos State) had Vietnam, to be sure, but also the space program, civil-rights legislation, and the Great Society. Richard Nixon (Whittier) established relations with China and the USSR, signed the first strong environmental legislation, ended the Vietnam War and the draft, and even began affirmative action. Jimmy Carter (Annapolis) . . . well, we’ll come back to him. And of course Reagan dealt a mortal blow to Communism and at least a glancing one to dirigisme, while making the political world safe for conservatism.
Now let’s look at the Ivy Leaguers. JFK (Harvard, after a semester at Princeton) is best remembered — except for his untimely death — for almost starting a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis; Gerald Ford (Yale Law) was overwhelmed by events during his brief term in office; Bush 41 (Yale) let Reagan’s defeat of Communism play out, won an easy war, and then raised taxes and couldn’t even get reelected; Clinton (Yale Law), while coasting on the peace dividend, flopped with Hillarycare and lost the Democrats’ 40-year hold on the House; Bush 43 (Yale, Harvard MBA) made grandiose plans but had considerable trouble following through; and Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) narrowly passed a health-care law that everyone hates, plus he’s given some nice speeches.
This pattern has been going on for a long time. George Washington (no college) established the standard for every president since; Jefferson (William and Mary) bought much of the continent from France, defeated the Barbary pirates, and got the slave trade abolished; and Monroe (William and Mary) had a doctrine named after him. In between these, John Adams (Harvard) showed irresolution against the French, was pressured into signing the Alien and Sedition Acts, and lost control of his own cabinet; and Madison (Princeton) started a disastrous war with Britain that saw the nation’s capital set on fire.
Then came John Quincy Adams, who set the pattern for most modern Ivy League ***holes (IL*s) in the White House: earnest, smart, eager, ambitious, self-righteous, and uncomfortable with practical politics. In his first annual message to Congress, he proposed, to general mirth, that the federal government should establish a national university and build an astronomical observatory. The Washington political machine, much smaller back then but no less vicious, chewed him up and spat him out, and in the 1828 election he was routed by alpha-alpha male Andrew Jackson, whose success ushered in a series of hastily countrified hacks, time servers, generals, and amateurs that ended only with Abraham Lincoln (a genuinely countrified amateur, and a brilliant one).
For more than seven decades after JQA, the only Ivy graduate to serve as president was Rutherford Hayes (Harvard Law). Then the arrival of the 20th century brought Theodore Roosevelt (Harvard) and William Howard Taft (Yale), followed by the Great Ivy Presidential Smackdown of 1912, a three-way free-for-all that pitted those two against Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson. The nation has yet to recover.
Now, you may have noticed that while the Ivy League has eight members, the same three schools keep popping up. Indeed, within the league, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have hogged the presidency the way they used to hog the football championship. That’s why some think Barack Obama’s most path-breaking accomplishment was becoming the first Ivy president to break the Big Three’s monopoly.
Obama did go to Harvard Law School, though, and never mind black vs. white, East vs. West, or uniter vs. divider, because here’s the true, the fundamental conflict in Obama’s soul: Is he a Columbia ***hole or a Harvard ***hole? The answer is important, because those are two very different types of ***hole. Both are obsessed with showing you how smart they are, but the Columbia ***hole does it by telling you everything he knows, while the Harvard ***hole does it by acting bored with whatever you say. The Harvard variety is at least laid back, and the Columbia variety can be interesting; but put them together and you have a world-weary pest. That may not be an exact description of Obama, but he’s certainly getting there….