Harvard loses its way?

20 04 2006

Writing about web page http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i29/29b00601.htm

One of last month’s Chronicles has a very interesting article about Harvard and its loss of direction – argues that Summers was not the problem per se but merely represented the consequences of a loss of vision.

(NB warwick sign in is username: warwickuni, password: warwick)

Still, their endowment is $8biliion more than it was when Summers arrived so not all bad news!

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20 04 2006
Robert O'Toole

That guy sounds very unhappy! Is it all true?

“the forces controlling Harvard today want it to follow the crowd. If most other universities have something, be it a simple distribution requirement for graduation or a women’s center, the new Harvard thinks they must be right.”

My guess is that they have lost confidence in their uniqueness, that which makes a Harvard degree different from and better than anything else. They then must explain and justify their product in the same terms as every other university, seeking to achieve a difference in degree as opposed to a difference in kind. But in doing so they risk the commodification of their product. It can be done cheaper and better elswhere (online, in the Far East etc). Harvard doomed? What can we learn from this?

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