Ali got the line wrong. Actually, the aphorism goes: “Harvard is never having to say you’re sorry.”
Claudine Gay, the first black woman to serve as Harvard's president, stepped down a few days ago; Gay was unable to weather a storm of controversy around her equivocal response to a question about anti-Semitism at her university and by credible allegations of plagiarism in her dissertation and other scholarly publications.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Gay will resume her job as a tenured Harvard faculty member, earning almost $900,000 a year--close to what she made as Harvard's president. Good wages for a scholar with a skimpy publication record and serious charges of plagiarism.
Nobody apologized. Gay said she stood by the integrity of her scholarship and said her downfall was driven, at least partly, by “racial animus.” Harvard professors who supervised Gay's Harvard dissertation did not apologize for missing plagiarized passages in her dissertation draft. She would undoubtedly have corrected the errors if her advisors had caught them.
As I said, Harvard is never having to say you’re sorry It just blunders along, year after weary year, sucking in money from billionaires who do not know what to do with their wealth, spouting platitudes about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Harvard Law School hired Elizabeth Warren as a professor, no doubt because she claimed to be partly native American--a Cherokee, to be precise. That assertion proved false, but Warren retained her post at Harvard. In fact, she sailed on to become a U.S. senator and even had the temerity to run for president.
Harvard will weather the little storm kicked up by President Gay. Its endowment may suffer a bit, but the university has $60 billion in endowment money. Harvard professors can wipe their asses with $100 bills from the endowment fund, and Harvard will never run out of money.
Harvard's reputation may suffer a bit, but thousands of young people still want to attach their name to a Harvard diploma. I was one of those people and foolishly spent three years at Harvard to get a doctoral degree. It wasn’t worth much.
As others have said, Americans should stop believing that Harvard is the acme of scholarly intelligence. Harvard does not maintain rigorous standards; ninety percent of its undergraduates complete their degreeswith honors. Harvard claims to be urgently concerned about discrimination and prejudice against underprivileged minorities. Still, it has shown itself to be little more than a haven for anti-Semites and race baiters.
I regret the years I spent at Harvard. I regret the money that I borrowed to pay Harvard tuition. I regret the stresses on my family brought on by my ill-advised decision to leave the lovely state of Alaska, where I was making a good living, to wallow at a sordid university in the dirty and inhospitable town of Cambridge. Indeed, I found Harvard, Cambridge, and the greater Boston area to be provincial, bigoted, and willfully ignorant about how the real world works.