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A comment from a Harvard library worker at a rally to protest layoffs.

“So it’s a very bad situation. We feel like Harvard has plenty of money. When I came here 20 years ago they had $4.5 billion in their endowment. Now they have 29 billion. To me, that’s a staggering record of capital accumulation. And they made some risky investments that made the endowment skyrocket during the boom times – leveraged private equity, oil, timber, hedge funds, and of course these things, when the economy is doing great they do fantastic and the endowment doubled in just a few years. Predictably, in a downturn, those investments are going to take a hit. But they want us to pay for that. They want ordinary workers to pay for their investment strategies. They pay their top people – one guy got 6.4 million in a year for managing a Harvard endowment. There were several of them. It was reported in the Globe. He goes up from 3 million to 6 million. So why do they have to cut jobs?”

Margaret Soltan, March 7, 2009 8:06AM
Posted in: harvard: bar fly

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8 Responses to “A comment from a Harvard library worker at a rally to protest layoffs.”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    Fortunately, this library worker doesn’t need to worry. Harvard has a faculty chock-full of progressives-confertam, et coagitatam, et supereffluentem, in St. Jerome’s lingo. I am very confident that they will step forward and offer to take 10% cuts in their very generous salary and benefit packages to help maintain the staff. Caring and sharing and all that, you know. I know the faculty at Gilligan, who will be caring and sharing to the tune of several percent next year, requested that low-paid staff be exempt from salary cuts, increasing their own give-back as a consequence. If we academic castaways can manage this, what radiant acts of self-sacrifice and generosity can we expect to see from our Ivy League relatives?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    “At least one student wondered if famous faculty benefitted students at all, or merely moved to the school to do minimal teaching and mostly conduct research. Jackson responded by noting that most faculty are able to roll over sabbaticals from previous teaching posts, or that they are granted some deference for the difficulties associated with moving across the country, but that all would eventually teach students.”

    At a sit-down with the new dean of Harvard law, students begin to wonder…


    Maybe, like Florence Babb, they’ll be asked to teach two courses a semester in these difficult times.

    Will they, like Florence, file expensive grievances?


    They’re lawyers, after all.

  3. The_Myth Says:

    UD still has a chip on her shoulder about Babb?

    There was a bit of an update to the Babb story, so you might need to revise your Babb-as-greedy narrative to accommodate the fact that she was already teaching 3 courses when the story made headlines.

    "In addition to her teaching, Babb serves as graduate coordinator in the women’s studies center. Given her duties as coordinator, her new teaching load expanded to three courses over spring and fall semesters — as opposed to four classes — because her coordinator responsibility qualifies as a course."


  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Myth, if you think grad coordinator for a small women’s studies center qualifies as a course, I have some land in Florida to sell you.

  5. dave.s. Says:

    Harvard is worse off than it looks: they bought a lot of long-term investments (forest land, mines, real estate) which, if they try to get out of now, will leave them in dreadful shape. They’re trying to hold on rather than sell at fire sale prices. Many alums, like me, are focused on the grotesque amount they do have and turn them down when they hit us up for funds. So they have a lot of stuff locked up, and what is liquid they are over-committed for.

    I mean, their problems all of us should wish to have… but they do have money problems.

  6. econprof Says:

    Hmm…the library worker’s complaint sounds familiar. Right, could come directly from Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged". Some people have money, we have needs, so they have to give us a job and pay us according to our needs.

    It makes me sad that such ideas are not immediately dismissed: America seems to become more and more sclerotic like Europe.

  7. Managing money | Money and Finance Articles Says:

    […]  A comment from a Harvard library worker at a rally to protest layoffs.Posted by joneilortiz via Google Reader   […]

  8. Mark Says:

    If we became even more like Europe, is there a chance we’d end up with econ professors who don’t read Ayn Rand? (Cf. Greenspan, etc.)

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