The $800 Million Misunderstanding

TRUE FACT HEADLINE: “Harvard Will Move to Divest its Endowment from Fossil Fuels” (Harvard Crimson, September 9th online)

Well, not quite.

According to Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, what the school actually plans to do is divest itself of fossil faculty.

“The misunderstanding is all my fault,” says Bacow.  

“Here’s the problem we’re trying to address, and it’s a serious one.  Our aging, tenured professors are becoming increasingly cranky and expensive to maintain.  And when they talk, it sounds like their brains are filled with kettle corn.  Have you tried engaging Steven Pinker in a lucid conversation lately?  Good luck. 

“Well, Boston and Cambridge are teeming with bright, unemployed, PhD-bearing adjuncts who are more than willing to teach a 100-seat section of Renaissance Poetry for the price of a Fenway Frank.  We can’t in good conscience continue to spend Harvard’s limited resources on faculty from the Cretaceous Period.  So, beginning in January, 2022, the mandatory retirement age for our professors will be 65.  Will we get sued?  Hell, yeah.  But I’m sure Martin Luther King would be on our side.  We’re fighting for our principles here.

“As I said before, I take full responsibility for the confusion that has arisen.  What I meant to say in my formal announcement is that all of these terminated professors, 65 and older, will be given an opportunity to have themselves immediately converted into fossil fuel.  This ‘faculty fuel’ will then be used to provide emergency power to the Main Reading Room of Widener Library during storm-related power outages.  We intend to call this our “Legacy of Light” initiative, and it’s quite inspirational, when you stop and think about it. 

“Unfortunately, I garbled this message when briefing reporters a couple of days ago, resulting in the Crimson’s erroneous headline.  In my defense, I turned 70 in August.  Would you like some kettle corn?”