A day after Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren defeated U.S. Senator Scott Brown, colleagues and students at Harvard said the senator-elect will bring the characteristic intensity they have come to know well to Capitol Hill.
“She was a fabulous colleague and one of the very best teachers here. Students universally loved her. But this is a higher calling, and I don’t know anyone at the Law School who is selfish enough to think it would have been better if Elizabeth had remained in Cambridge,” University professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 wrote in an email.
Tribe was one of the professors who first brought Warren to Harvard Law School in the 1990s. During the campaign, he repeatedly stepped up to aid his colleague and friend, hosting multiple fundraising events and defending Warren in the press.
Warren’s campaign relied heavily on interns and volunteers from across the University, and the professor’s campaign pocketbook was bolstered by more than $220,000 in donations from her Harvard colleagues.
“In Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren, we have a history-making future leader of the nation in the grand progressive tradition,” Tribe wrote.
Law School professor Jody Freeman, a close friend of Warren’s, said the law faculty was delighted for Warren, but that it will miss her expertise in the classroom and friendship outside of it.
“I remember when I joined the Harvard faculty, Elizabeth took me to lunch and gave me some advice. She told me that a lot of people here agonize over how they got here and whether they belong, and she said not to spend even a minute on that kind of thing,” Freeman said. “‘Just seize the opportunity and run with it,’ she said. ‘Figure out what you want to do, what’s important and meaningful, and just do it.’ And I think that is exactly the attitude she will bring to the U.S. Senate.”
Warren, who has been Leo Gottleib Professor of Law since 1995, is the only law professor to win the school’s prestigious Sacks-Freund Teaching Award twice, the last time being in 2009. The award is voted on by the students and recognizes their choice of the best teacher on the faculty.
Students who had Warren in class before she began a leave of absence last fall and have followed her campaign since said that Warren’s presence in the Senate should compensate for her absence from the classroom.
“I think it’s definitely a loss for Harvard Law School, but I think it will definitely be made up for by the good she’ll be doing,” said Jessica E. Harris, a second-year law student.
Wearing a Warren for Senate t-shirt, Harris joked that students might not miss Warren’s characteristic intensity in the classroom.
“She was also a really, really tough professor,” Harris said with a smile.
Jonathan G. Hiles, a first-year law student, said even though he never took a class with Warren, her presence was always tangible at the school.
“We had a professor...who said some of the people on the law faculty wouldn’t vote for her, not because they don’t think she’s qualified, but because they don’t want to see her leave,” Hiles said, explaining that the professor was joking.
Warren’s husband Bruce H. Mann, who is also a professor at the Law School, will remain on the faculty even as his wife departs for Washington.
“It’s going to be a pleasure to work with her as part of the Massachusetts delegation,” said University President Drew G. Faust in an interview with The Crimson. “We’ve always had very close relationships with our delegation.”
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.