WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued the following statement regarding the election for the Harvard Board of Overseers, results of which were announced today. Candidates slated by the Harvard Alumni Association won the six available seats. The two petition candidates, Robert Freedman and Harvey Silverglate, failed to garner sufficient votes for election.
Freedman advocated for a more coherent general education and a renewed emphasis on teaching, while Silverglate urged Harvard to uphold academic freedom and ensure free speech on campus. Both argued in favor of lifting the decades-old ban on ROTC.
Petition candidates Robert Freedman and Harvey Silverglate clearly faced an uphill battle. Even the formidable Barack Obama failed in his bid for the Board of Overseers when he ran as a petition candidate. That is why the reform-minded Freedman and Silverglate deserve credit for their willingness to stand up and demand more of their alma mater. They represent a growing movement of alumni who wish to put students back at the center of education and refuse to remain silent when academic standards and academic freedom are threatened.
Their ideas prompted alumni support and positive media coverage. The incumbents would do well to listen to them and address their concerns.
We hope and expect that the issues raised by Freedman and Silverglate will continue to illuminate the national conversation on how to improve higher education.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas and accreditation in higher education.