Kerry Leads in Faculty Donations

As Election Day draws nearer, donations by Harvard professors to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry have shot through the roof, while donations to President Bush’s campaign have failed to keep pace.

According to two websites based on public records from the Federal Election Commission, dozens of tenured Harvard faculty have given money to the Kerry campaign, but only a few have donated to Bush’s campaign.

According to www.opensecrets.org—a website run by the non-partisan, non-profit Center for Responsive Politics—employees of Harvard University as a group have donated $340,589 to the Kerry campaign, ranking second only to the University of California among all organizations donating to the Massachusetts senator.

While Harvard employees did not contribute enough to Bush for the University to be listed on www.opensecrets.org, the website did note that only four percent of Harvard employees’ total political contributions during the 2004 election cycle have gone to Republicans.

Kerry has garnered significantly more donations from Harvard affiliates throughout the race. As of Jan. 30, Kerry had received $53,100, while Bush had only received $8,250, according to a report issued by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Kerry also enjoys substantially more support among students: Kerry leads Bush 73 percent to 19 percent among students, according to a Crimson poll of eligible voters conducted last week.

Johnson Professor of International Business Management Louis T. Wells, who contributed to Kerry, said that Kerry has broad support among the faculty, noting that even some Republican professors had signed an open letter critical of the Bush administration that Wells co-authored.

But Bush’s faculty supporters have been vocal despite being outnumbered.

In an Oct. 25 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature Ruth R. Wisse, a Bush contributor, criticized the “scandalous uniformity” of academia’s “liberal-left hegemony.” Wisse wrote that some conservatives find this political environment to be “repressive.”

Winthrop Professor of History Stephan A. Thernstrom said he contributed to Bush because Kerry fails to grasp the lessons of Sept. 11 and thus has a “profoundly misguided” foreign policy.

“I believe it is extremely important to re-elect Bush,” Thernstrom said.

Faculty contacted for this article agreed that contributing to candidates does not compromise their academic roles.

“Partisanship does not belong in the classroom, but one does not stop being a citizen when one becomes a teacher,” wrote Burbank Professor of Political Economy Dwight H. Perkins, a Kerry contributor, in an e-mail message.

Lee Professor of Economics Claudia D. Goldin wrote in an e-mail that she thinks political beliefs do not affect professors’ classes.

“No one who takes my courses would have any idea of my political or personal views,” she wrote.

Staff writer James C. Davis can be reached at jcdavis@fas.harvard.edu.