Harvard University is given millions of dollars in public funding every year, which has made the school a legitimate target of investigation by the Justice Department in light of allegations of admissions discimination. In fact, Harvard is facing suits not only by the Justice Department, but also an organization called Students for Fair Admissions and a coalition of many Asian-American groups.
But rather than simply comply with both demands to see admissions records and to obey the law, Harvard has obfuscated, fought back, and continued an institution-wide attitude of entitlement. Its in-house lobbyists ramp up their efforts during “appropriations season.” Last year, Harvard lobbyist Paul Andrew admitted that even the school’s president was active in her attempts to influence Washington lawmakers: “That was why it was important for President Faust to be in Washington early in the year, understanding that the FY17 budget was still in play and she wanted to make a forceful case for the partnership and for research funding.”
Drew Faust is no longer Harvard’s president; she stepped down just last month. But while in that position she was known to meet with lawmakers often. Faust met several times with Massachusetts Representative Niki Tsongas and is a longtime friend of Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.
Faust seems to do a lot of unregistered lobbying, as its own *Crimson* publication reported: “On a rainy April afternoon, Faust steps out of a black Cadillac Escalade and into the Dirksen Senate Office Building for an appointment. Earlier that morning, she had made the case for government support of higher education at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and now she was headed to meet with lawmakers to make that same argument.”
Harvard’s focus of late has been its tax-exempt status and humanities funding, both of which have been called into question. Because of this focus, members of the school’s in-house lobbying corps are chosen for their connections to Capitol Hill. Suzanne Day, for example, was involved in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act twice when she worked in Washington.
Harvard’s desired connection to government was best articulated by Faust, herself: “There were certain assumptions that the federal government and universities together would be the bedrock of discovery in the United States.” Not surprisingly, the incoming president, Lawrence Bacow, was a member of the Obama White House, appointed to the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
*IHBCU = Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities*