Blistering Harvard $$$$ critique

<p>Think</a> Tank: The 'Veritas' About Harvard - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education</p>

<p>Thanks for posting this. It's a well done article. Everything for the "brand" and the Harvard Corporation.</p>

<p>Interesting read. I'll admit, it's something I've never thought about before- why couldn't they admit more people? I'm sure there will be lots of opinions on that one.</p>

<p>I thought the piece was a well argued opinion. In my opinion there was no incentive for Harvard to admit more at that time. The "rankings" are predicated on the concept of less admits not more admits. The positive press engendered by their finaid policy at that time was also probably a great motivator. Time will tell how they will handle the infrastructure. Harvard has been and will continue to be a world class institution whether they are 1 or 10 in the rankings. Hopefully they have enough "smart" people administratively to figure out how to spin the PR on whatever solution they come up with.
Utilization is something I'm sure all colleges have to analyze as part of the operations and again, supposedly there should be plenty of smart people to figure it out...</p>

<p>I have not read the whole article but I'd like to address the question of why Harvard could not admit more students.</p>

<li>The endowment is a collective endowment. Some of the schools are richer (HBS, HMS, HLS) and some poorer (HGS, HDS, HGAD). Harvard College is part of the Faculty of Art and Sciences that is responsible for the education of both undergraduates and graduate students in Arts and Sciences. GSAS has no endowment of its own. zero, zilch, so it depends entirely on income from FAS. FAS is the unit that has suffered most from the financial crisis--it has a large deficit. From what I was told, the Corporation made a decision quite some time ago that it wanted to make a Harvard education affordable to more people, not just the very well off and the very poor. The expansion of finaid to families making up to $180k (up from $80k) cost the university an amount that could take care of the deficit if it were rescinded, but the Corporation does not want to rescind the policy. </li>
<li>Admitting more students. Harvard has admitted slightly more students than it used to about a decade ago. In his freshman year, my S was in a suite that had 5 but had clearly been designed for 4. In 3 out of his 4 years, he bunked; and the one year he did not, it was because a room that had been meant to be a common room was used as a bedroom (it had no door). Clearly, if Harvard were to admit more students, it would need to build more dorm rooms. It would have done so if expansion into Allston had continued.
If Harvard were to admit more students in the present situation, it would also need more faculty to retain the faculty:student ratio that is a hallmark of the top education.
Again, Harvard was contemplating adding to the faculty until the financial crisis hit. It is now trying to shed faculty through attrition.
Harvard could admit more people if students were willing to not just double up as my S did but triple or quadruple up, or put up with the outrageous rents in Cambridge. and endure more town/gown conflcts. It could admit more students if they were willing to have faculty:student ratio similar to state schools. It could admit more students if they were all full pay rather than stellar students whose families might not be able to afford $200k+
It could admit more students if if were willing to no longer be Harvard.</li>

An institution truly dedicated to teaching students has natural limits on how much money it needs. At some point, the land and space and professors suffice.</p>

<p>An institution dedicated to accumulating more money and prestige? There are no limits to those needs. They can never be satisfied.


<p>The article presents these two options as though they were the only two possibilities. It should not be a huge revelation that undergraduate teaching is not very high up on Harvard's priorities. And 'accumulating more money and prestige'? They already had plenty of that and even with the current financial hit, they are unlikely to become poor and non-prestigious.</p>

<p>I believe Harvard (like its peers) considers its primary mission to be a research university with the goal of advancing scholarship and expanding the frontiers of human knowledge. That is what the faculty were hired to do. They were not hired to teach.</p>

<p>Sorry, I disagree. Harvard College has always been the jewel in Harvard's crown. Undergraduate teaching is extremely important. I disagree that research and teaching are antithetical. Some of the most famous researchers are also some of the star profs. As a former GSAS student, I know full well how little resources GSAS has compared to the College.
Funds that go to HMS cannot be diverted to the College (or GSAS or the Graduate School of Education, etc...). Ditto for HLS and HBS. That has nothing to do with teaching vs. research. In the sciences, many profs are supported by outside grants that compel them (and their graduate students) to focus on research. But without those outside grants, the university could probably not pay for them and their labs, so undergraduates would not benefit from having them around.</p>