Campus Insider

Exodus to the administration

By Peter Schworm and Tracy Jan
Globe Staff / January 25, 2009
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There goes another one. With Friday's announcement that Harvard law professor Daniel Meltzer is following school dean Elena Kagan and professors Cass Sunstein and David Barron to posts in the Obama administration, questions arise about how the school will weather the exodus.

Meltzer will be principal deputy counsel to the president, the school said.

"Will the last faculty member please turn out the lights?" quipped Robert London, law school spokesman.

Joking aside, London takes issue with a recent Yale Daily News story insinuating that the empire Kagan built will come tumbling down, as Barack Obama (class of '91) plucks key talent from his alma mater.

Many of the professors will be shuttling between Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, London said. While they won't necessarily be teaching (some spring classes have already been taken over by other faculty), the professors will include students on projects of national importance.

"They will wind up bringing context and contacts back to the university," London said. "It's ultimately a very good thing for the school."

Custom Cabinets
So what are the top colleges to attend if you hope to make it into a presidential Cabinet?

That would include, not surprisingly, Harvard - which has more alumni in Cabinet positions than Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT combined, according to Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise. The University of California at Berkeley, Yale, Georgetown, Indiana University, and the University of Denver (Condoleezza Rice is an alum) round out the list.

Not to be left out of the pack on Obama's team, Wellesley College sent a note to CI emphasizing that three of its alumnae have been tapped as secretaries for the new administration: Katie Johnson, class of 2003 and the subject of a recent Globe profile, is the president's personal secretary; Desiree Rogers, class of 1981, is the White House social secretary; and Hillary Clinton, class of 1969, is secretary of state (a position also held by 1959 alumna Madeleine Albright.)

Silverglate's bid
Is it easier to be elected president of the United States than it is to be elected as a petition candidate to the Harvard Board of Overseers? Yes, says Cambridge civil liberties attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, who is running for election. To the board, that is.

Apparently, Barack Obama unsuccessfully ran a petition campaign for the board in 1991 to prompt the university to divest holdings in companies doing business in apartheid-era South Africa, Silverglate said. Silverglate, 1967 Harvard Law alum and Harvard critic, is running on a platform calling for changes to the student disciplinary tribunal, respect of free speech, and bolstering student voices.

Silverglate must gather 219 signatures from alumni by Feb. 9 to secure nomination as a petition candidate. So far, he has 185.

Recruiters take to Internet
High school students, better keep those Facebook accounts G-rated: College admissions officers seem to be getting more Internet-savvy by the day.

Following up on a widely publicized study of the use of social media in college admissions, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth researchers have again found that admissions offices are actively using social media to recruit and research prospective students.

The number of admissions officers using social media jumped sharply from last year, from 61 percent of respondents to 85 percent. More than 40 percent of admissions offices now have a blog, and 36 percent are using message boards. Their use of social networking sites and video blogging has "increased dramatically," the report found.

Copy that? Over and out
When professors in Boston University's school of communications returned from winter break this month, they were greeted with a gaping hole in the faculty mailroom: The copy machine was gone. The sudden disappearance irked some professors, particularly one who routinely copies a 40-page syllabus to hand out to students.

Tom Fiedler, communications school dean, issued a mea culpa, explaining to faculty in a recent meeting his desire to save money in the dismal economic climate. Doing away with needless copying could save the school up to $100,000 a year, he said.

"One of the problems we had in the past has been that the Xerox machine was too readily accessible to virtually anybody," Fiedler said in an interview. "People were coming in and copying almost everything short of 'War and Peace.' "

Instead of killing trees, professors should post syllabuses, assignments, and reading on internal websites, he said. But for those truly in need, they can still make copies, although the machine is now in a copying office, which is staffed by a monitor.

"He's been told to interrogate anybody who comes by asking, 'Do you have a better alternative than copying?' " Fiedler said, with a laugh.

To submit tips to Campus Insider, contact Peter Schworm at and Tracy Jan at

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