Minding the Campus explains that Harvard is following the example of most elite colleges these days by putting in charge the sort of guy who will reliably cave in to the demands of crazy leftist radicals every time.
Lawrence Bacow has been named the president of Harvard, succeeding Drew Gilpin Faust, who held the office for 11 years.
Mysteriously missing from the news coverage was the fact that Bacow was a 2007 finalist for the â€œSheldon,â€ our coveted award for worst college president of the year. The award is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except the Oscar features a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way.
The award is named for the late Sheldon Hackney, the former president of the University of Pennsylvania and the Babe Ruth of modern Sheldonism.
As president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow looked the other way when a student-faculty committee put a conservative Tufts publication on trial and found it guilty for publishing two parodies. One was a mock Christmas carol making fun of affirmative action and the other was a satire of Tuftâ€™s Islamic Awareness Week.
The committee accused the journal of causing â€œembarrassment, which we had thought was the entire purpose of satire. The committee ordered the publication not to run any unsigned articles in the future, a rule not applied to other campus publications. The committee also hinted that funding would be cut if other controversial articles were published.
FIRE wrote Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow to ask why a verdict declaring The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of â€œharassmentâ€ and â€œcreating a hostile environmentâ€ still standsâ€•despite the fact that Bacow himself has openly admitted that such a punishment could not stand under the First Amendment.
â€œWe explained to President Bacow (again) that the only way for Tufts University to shed the dishonor of being one of three schools named to FIREâ€™s Red Alert listâ€•reserved for schools FIRE deems â€˜the worst of the worstâ€™ when it comes to protecting rights on campusâ€•was by immediately dropping the guilty finding against TPS. As we wrote:
â€œAs long as the harassment finding against The Primary Source remains, students at Tufts are in danger of being censored and sanctioned merely for expressing unpopular opinions on campus.â€
Eventually, Bacow acknowledged freedom of speech by eliminating punishment for the student journalists and praised free expression but refused to overrule the guilty verdict, leading the Sheldon committee to conclude that Bacowâ€™s commitment to free speech â€˜â€™shuttles between tepid and imaginary.â€.
A mutual friend invited Bacow and me to lunch, where Bacow once again reiterated his innocent but guilty position, a stance opposed by the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and several newspapers. It was, however, the only time a Sheldon candidate argued his case before the whole Sheldon committee (me).
Bacow lost the worst-president title that year to a superlative effort by Richard Brodhead, president of Duke.
Bacow resembles Yale’s own Peter Salovey very closely. He did not attend Harvard College as an undergraduate, but does possess the tenuous connection of a Harvard graduate degree (in his case from the Law School). Salovey’s Social Science (Psychology) background is bad enough, but Bacow spent decades specializing in “Environmental Studies,” i.e. trendy superstition based on an updated version of the Manichaean heresy.