Harvard: Not an Ounce of Common Sense

Whilst serving on a dissertation committee, I gained mighty insight into the halls of academe. My fellow committee members and I were sitting in shocked silence.  We had just finished a PhD candidate’s oral defense. The defense was a stunner.  The candidate could not answer questions, tackle challenges, or even summarize  what he had written.

He was terrific at spouting terms, stringing them together, and concluding circuitously.  But  mumbo-jumbo hung heavily in the room. One committee member shook his head and observed, “Sometimes I think we take these doctoral students for five to seven years and just beat the common sense right out of them.”

In fact, there are now generations of them, lumbering about the halls of academe, and continuing to spout mumbo-jumbo.  Harvard is the leading residence for the mumbling jumbos.

To tackle the issues surrounding Harvard’s  international embarrassment in its standards for and treatment of Jewish students, the new acting president created a Presidential Task Force on Combating Antisemitism.   The head of the task force is Professor Derek Penslar.

Professor Penslar’s book titles alone suggest that his heart may not be into even-handedness:: “Israeli Historical Revisionism,” “Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe,” and “Colonialism and the Jews.”  His books never quite get around to covering, say, anti-Zionism. But he has covered topics such as Israel’s creation of apartheid, grounded in “Jewish Supremacism.”

On what planet was this choice acceptable ? Give us a welder, a butcher, a baker, and throw in a candlestick maker for the climate-change crowd.  In short, give us some common sense.

In the Neil Simon comedy, “Seems Like Old Times,” a character proposes a ridiculous solution for stopping nightmareish headlines.  Upon hearing the insane suggestion the victim character responds, ” We’ll make the cover of the National Enquirer!”

Yes, the magazine that relies on lack of common  sense for readership and defies the laws of defamation would worry about running a story that Harvard’s anti-Semitic task force is headed by a professor whose writings highlight the problems with Israel and the  Jews.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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