Sunday, April 23, 2006


I got my ballot in the mail to vote for the Harvard University Board of Overseers (or, as it says on my diploma, "the Honorable and Reverend the Board of Overseers", with the classy double definite article). Usually I throw these out, but this year I was seized with the spirit of democracy and decided to send it back. Since some Mah Rabu readers are also eligible to vote, I'm putting together a list of endorsements, based entirely on the candidate bios provided with the ballot.

There are eight candidates, of which one can vote for up to five.

Sandra Moore Faber - Definite YES. She's an astrophysicist who studies dark matter and the formation of galaxies. We like all these areas of study. We also like the Hubble Space Telescope. Also, physics needs more women (and women need more physics).

Ricardo Hinojosa - Definite NO. "After graduating from Harvard Law School, he returned to his native South Texas where he has served nearly 23 years as a federal judge." By my calculations, 2006 - 23 = 1983, which makes him a Reagan appointee. No thanks!

Leila T. Fawaz - Historian of the Middle East. Wants "to foster cross-cultural dialogue and to promote tolerance among people of different backgrounds." Sure, I support that. YES.

Henry W. McGee III
- President of HBO Video. I don't get HBO, but I know that their videos and DVDs bring happiness to other people. He has also "worked to redevelop seven historic theaters and a studio providing low-cost rehearsal space in Times Square." YES.

Robert N. Shapiro - This is not the famous Robert L. Shapiro who defended O.J. Simpson, but he's also a lawyer, working at Ropes & Gray in Boston. His bio on the firm website says that he clerked for Judge Jon O. Newman, who was appointed by both Nixon (to the District Court) and Carter (to the Second Circuit), so there's not enough information to guess Newman's politics, let alone someone who clerked for him almost 30 years ago. So that's a wash. However, there's nothing else in his bio that jumps out, and I can only vote for five, so I'll have to go with NO.

Arne S. Duncan - CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. We like Chicago, and we like public schools. YES.

Ann S. Moore - CEO of Time, Inc. Time sucks! Like other newsmagazines, they're complicit in dumbing down the news and parroting Bush-administration frames and talking points. The top story on their website right now is "Can Josh Bolten Rescue the Bush Presidency?". How about rescuing the United States? Also, they interviewed me extensively and then I didn't even get in the story. NO.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer - Widow of Joseph Pulitzer Jr., and chair of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, as well as a former curator of Harvard's Fogg Art Museum and the St. Louis Art Museum. Responsible for lots and lots of money going to the arts. Who can argue with that. YES.

In conclusion, Mah Rabu's endorsements are Fawaz, McGee, Faber, Duncan, and Pulitzer. Comment if you see any reason to change this before I send it in.


  1. I don't know enough to tell you to vote NO on Arne Duncan, but I do know that many who like Chicago and like public schools do NOT like Arne Duncan at all. I think it's largely related to the not-very-liked Renaissance 2010 plan...but again, I'm no expert.

  2. Thanks. I've been away from Chicago long enough that I haven't been following the news, so this is useful information. What's the Renaissance 2010 plan?

  3. Oh shit. Looks like privatization. The heck with that.

    Ok, Duncan is out, and Shapiro is in. Shapiro is involved with the Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships, and everyone likes those.

  4. Marshall PerrinApril 24, 2006 5:45 PM

    I second Ben's endorsement of Sandy Faber. I happen to know her professionally, and in addition to being an excellent scientist, she's a good teacher. And that's definitely something that could use some more support from the Board of Overseers!

  5. Harvard should rescind your diploma. This is the shallowest analysis I've read anywhere. Was that the Harvard School of Broadcasting?

    Harvard 99

  6. This analysis was intentionally shallow, as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the fact that we alumni have the power to vote on these candidates, yet most people throw the ballot away without voting, and we have no useful information beyond these bios (or whatever else is available on Google) to help us cast a more informed vote. The candidates don't submit platforms on the issues or anything like that. Direct election of judges has the same problem, and much worse, because judges have a much greater impact on the real world than the Harvard University Board of Overseers does.

  7. The candidates don't submit platforms on the issues or anything like that.

    Beyond a one-line Miss America-style platform, that is.