RECENTLY Harvard put a helpwanted ad in the New York Times as part of its presidential search. This is a good thing. Harvard could use a president from New York. Someone with street smarts. Someone with an attitude. Someone with enough character to someday get a deli sandwhich named after him or her.
Yes, the New York Times ad is a good thing, if not a great thing. A great thing would have been a personal ad in the Village Voice. Something along the lines of "354 year-old single mostly-white co-educational university seeks intelligent individual with an interest in S&M;, pointillist body painting, and yam-filled leather body stockings. Must be good at fundraising."
Of course, if the search committee isn't looking for someone just like Derek Bok then the ad would have to read somewhat differently, but the point remains. (Note to the reader: I have just made a joke linking the president of Harvard University to various kinky sexual habits and gotten away with it. This demonstrates the concept of a "lame duck" officeholder.)
In any case, the New York Times advertisement was a good idea. The only problem is that they printed the wrong address--over the last few weeks I have been inundated by letters from New Yorkers interested in getting the job of Harvard president. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
Dear Sirs and Madam:
As former mayor of New York City I feel uniquely qualified to manage your university. As I see it, you've got your Harvard Yard, which is like Brooklyn, Eliot House is uptown Manhattan and Winthrop is downtown, and Adams is Queens. How am I doing? You've got Kirkland-the Bronx, Mather-Staten Island, and the Quad, which is, I don't know, out somewhere in New Jersey.
New York has been called "the city that never sleeps," while Harvard has a Store 24, open all night. New York is also called "the Big Apple," and Harvard has a Lil' Peach. And I'm sure if I had to, I could think of something in New York that's analogous to Christy's.
As you can see, my prior job experience as New York's mayor makes me the perfect candidate for the Harvard presidency. If you choose someone else, though, that's okay too--you wouldn't believe how much money I'm making now. Sincerely, Ed Koch former Hizzoner, NYC
Dear Sirs and Madam:
It has come to my attention that your organization is having some leadership difficulties. I am suggesting now that I take over your operation, capish? Look, my friends, as I see it what the Harvard community--the Harvard family--needs right now is someone with muscle.
You've got some divestment-activist punks making waves? You send a few guys out to bust some heads and those pansies will get the message. Believe me, they'll learn some respect quick once a few of them end up in wheelchairs.
You've got big-shot politicians in Washington giving you a hard time about enforcing the drinking age? Hey, all these guys want is a piece of the actions. And if that don't work, you lean on them. Hard. Believe me, when I'm Harvard president kegs will flow in the Yard, laws or no laws.
Another thing--I hear Harvard's got a union now. I'm real good at working with unions. Real good. I've got no problems in the labor union department, none whatsoever.
All I'm asking, gentlemen and lady, is that you make me president of Harvard. It'll be good for you, it'll be good for me, and it'll be good for Harvard: when people from all over the world come to me with their problems, it will be a Harvard ring that they'll kiss.
Please don't make me ask you this favor again. Sincerely John Giotti Gambino Crime Family, NYC