Empire……or Fever Dream?

Many colleges and universities view the coronavirus as an existential threat. 

Not Harvard.

The school, with its $40 billion endowment, is using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to consolidate its power.  On March 27th, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow contacted the governing boards of the seven other Ivy League institutions, offering to buy them out.  If his bold move succeeds, the Ivy League will consist of one school with eight campuses:

  • Harvard Cambridge
  • Harvard Ithaca
  • Harvard Hanover
  • Harvard New Jersey
  • Harvard New Haven
  • Harvard Philadelphia
  • Harvard NYC
  • Harvard Providence

According to Bacow, “this consolidation will enhance the ability of our institution to assign elite children to the Ivy League location that best suits their needs, or the needs of their parents, or the needs of the banking and consulting industries they will be joining after graduation.  Each campus will have a different focus.”  

Here’s the plan.  All quotes are from President Bacow. 

Harvard Cambridge:  The mothership, offering a standard elite curriculum.  “Lots of courses with no vocational value, but they make you an interesting person.”

Harvard Ithaca:  Will become the Harvard College of Agriculture, focusing on ice-cream products and yogurt. “Cornell’s on-campus Dairy Bar has always been the school’s core competency.  They have the best cows in the Ivy League.  We intend to make Ithaca the go-to place for education in this domain, and anticipate expanding into frozen custard and gelato.”

Harvard Hanover:  Soon to be the Harvard Institute of Snow and Alcohol Studies, where students can earn a BS in Snow Science or a BA in Problem Drinking.  “This is a perfect fit.  New Hampshire’s climate is highly supportive of the first major, and where the second major is concerned, data indicate that the typical Dartmouth student consumes his or her body weight in beer and vodka every three days.  These kids are wasted!”

Harvard New Jersey:  Will be known as The Antebellum Academy, offering a BA in Pre-Civil-War Studies.  “Let’s face it, Princeton University is basically a Southern plantation that was forced by the Civil Rights Movement to alter its groundskeeping employment practices and desegregate its debutante balls.  Let’s make some lemonade out of this lemon.”

Harvard New Haven:  Will be the home of the Harvard Thin-Crust Culinary Institute.  “New Haven is world-famous for its pizza and for its………well, for its pizza.  Students will be able to major in Mozzarella or Ricotta.”

Harvard Philadelphia:  “How does the “Balboa School of Performing and Fine Arts” sound to you?  The Rocky film series was based in Philadelphia.  Sylvester Stallone has agreed to serve as the School’s first Dean. Yo, Adrian!”

Harvard NYC:  The International Campus, where all foreign students will be enrolled, so that they can benefit from “the full American experience” that living in New York  City provides.  The Core Curriculum will include Subway Riding.

Harvard Providence:  “Unfortunately, we have no idea what we’re going to do with this location.  I mean, we’re talking here about Providence, Rhode Island, for God’s sake, and a school named after a color!  Maybe something with a maritime or aquarium theme would work.  Providence is on the water, right?”

While President Bacow hopes that the “New Harvard” will begin enrolling students in Fall 2021, some of his faculty are skeptical of the venture.  As one anonymous professor put it, “we all know that Bacow and his wife recently came down with the coronavirus, and are now self-quarantined.  When those two spend too much time alone, they get pretty squirrelly and generate wacky ideas.  Do you recall the Yak-in-a-Box fast-food franchise Harvard started last year?  How did that turn out?”

Stay tuned.