By Matthew Q. Clarida, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER7 hours ago
Photo: Anneli L. Tostar
[New York Times columnist
and Harvard overseer Nicholas D. Kristof ’81 asked University President Drew G. Faust about divestment, racial diversity, and other campus issues in Sanders Theatre on Tuesday]
Nicholas D. Kristof ’81, a columnist for the New York Times and a Harvard overseer, took his notebook to the stage of Sanders Theatre on Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging interview with University President Drew G. Faust.
In front of a three-quarters full theatre, Kristof was not shy with his questions, asking Faust to defend Harvard’s ongoing capital campaign in light of the school’s massive endowment—at last report, it was worth nearly $33 billion—as well as legacy admissions and the University’s handling of sexual assault.
Early in the program, Kristof steered the conversation to the capital campaign, which has jumped off to a lightning start and aims to raise $6.5 billion by 2018. He reiterated a question raised by others about why Harvard needs more money.
In response, Faust stressed that Harvard is uniquely positioned to effect change, through its students and its research, around the world.
“When we see what we’re not able to do, and what would be possible, that’s how we justify that [endowment],” Faust said in a long answer that highlighted Gerald L. Chan’s recent $350 million gift to the School of the Public Health as well as the school’s ability to help respond to current health crises, like Ebola.
Throughout the conversation, Kristof pivoted frequently, jumping from topics like legacy admissions—Faust said that about 12 percent of Harvard undergraduates are legacies, and that while legacy students are admitted at a higher rate, they also have higher test scores and grades than the average applicant—to divestment, where she reiterated her long-held stance that dumping Harvard’s fossil fuel investments would politicize the University’s endowment in a way she does not support.
Photo: Anneli L. Tostar
Drew G. Faust responds to a question from New York Times columnist and Harvard overseer Nicholas D. Kristof ’81 in an opening of the year conversation in Sanders Theatre on Tuesday.]
“I think divestment is not the direction towards making a difference on the climate issue. I think that our research, our teaching are fundamental to that effort, and that’s the best contribution universities can make,” she added. [emphasis added]