When Gov. Michael S. Dukakis lost his bid for the presidency this fall, conventional wisdom put Harvard's popularity about even with the polluted Boston Harbor.
Liberalism and the Yard were out, conservativism and anti-Harvard were in.
But this week's appointment of Washington insider Judith Richards Hope to the University's top governing board is a sign that Harvard's ties to the Capital endure across party lines and despite political polls.
President Bok and other Corporation members have said that Hope's Washington experience made her exceptionally qualified for a post on the seven-member governing board which has the ultimate say on all matters of University policy.
In other words, her legal experience was a plus, but her Washington ties were the clincher.
As Geyser University Professor and Corporation member Henry Rosovsky noted Tuesday, "Washington is an important city and there's a lot going on in Washington that affects Harvard and other universities."
Hope's lengthy Washington resume would make even many Kennedy School of Government politicos jealous. After serving as a domestic adviser to former President Gerald R. Ford, Hope chaired the 1984 Lawyers for Reagan/Bush committee.
And more significantly, observers have said, Hope kept her ties to Washington's premier power couple, Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole.
Hope and Elizabeth Dole attended the Law School together at a time when women made up a scant 2 percent of the student body. Hope says they've been close ever since.
Last year, Hope served as general counsel to Dole's faltering presidential campaign, and Dole aides said this week that the Senate minority leader was prepared to nominate Hope for a spot on the federal bench when Hope learned of her appointment to the Corporation.
"Washington and here are intimately involved," Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 said this week. "To have someone who has some experience...is the kind of person I'd like to have participate in discussions [of University policy]."