We missed Dean Barnett’s contribution this past Friday to our exploration of the events unfolding at Harvard: “Harvard: The end of the beginning.” Dean not only submits a new simile for our consideration, he performs original reporting including an interview with one of the faculty ringleaders of the anti-Summers bandwagon. He also reminds us of Dwight Eisenhower’s ordeal-by-faculty prior to his ascent to the presidency:
…Summers is hardly the first prominent university president to fail to win his faculty’s adulation. In 1948, then retired General Dwight D. Eisenhower became the president of Columbia University. In many ways, he found the Columbia faculty to be a more wily and intractable foe than Rommel. By all accounts, the Columbia faculty reciprocated their president’s dislike. According to legend, the professors used to ridicule Ike by admonishing one another to not give their president memos longer than one page. Anything longer, they joked, would cause Eisenhower’s lips to tire.
While the Columbia faculty blithely dismissed Eisenhower as a guileless simpleton, even Summers’ most ardent critics never question his intellect–they question his management style.
Dean’s column is a thoughtful addition to the discussion of events that warrant serious analysis.