Saturday, December 15, 2007

A misstep by Harvard's new president

Over at Cosmic Variance, Julianne Dalcanton catches some arrogant stuff from Drew Gilpin Faust (this was picked up by Doug Natelson too):

Update on 7 February 2008: Prof. Faust didn't say the words attributed to her.

“One thing we all must worry about — I certainly do — is the federal support for scientific research. And are we all going to be chasing increasingly scarce dollars?” says Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s new president.

Not that Faust seems worried about Harvard or other top-tier research schools. “They’re going to be—we hope, we trust, we assume—the survivors in this race,” she says. As for the many lesser universities likely to lose market share, she adds, they would be wise “to really emphasize social science or humanities and have science endeavors that are not as ambitious” as those of Harvard and its peers. [link]

Along the way, Dalcanton also offers this interesting argument:

The fact is that institutions of all kinds (universities, funding agencies, graduate admissions commitees) are frequently lousy at anticipating in whom to invest their money. We invest in people whose research evenutally fizzles, while our rejects do amazing things elsewhere. Given this empirical truth, science is best served by sprinkling the money far and wide, and seeing what sprouts.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Controversy and recent Harvard presidents :)