Did You Hear The One About 'New Harvard'?

What is it with Harvard's reputation.'

For years, admissions officers and four guides at Princeton and Yale have played games with prospective students, trying to persuade them can you believe? That the Harvard name isn't worth peanuts anymore.

Well last week, another well-known institution--President Reagan took his own liberties with Harvard's well-worn moniker.

In a speech Thursday at New

York's St. John's University, Reagan cited that school's top-ranked basketball squad and a string of notable statistics before calling st. John's "the new Harvard."


At that, the 7000 students in attendance cheered the president for several minutes, according to witnesses and publication reports.

Reagan's other comments, trumpeting what he called the "age of the entrepreneur" and his desire for an "economic revolution," response from students at the Roman Catholic university.

But it was Reagan's reference to St John's as "the new Harvard" that "was blown completely out of preparation by the media," Mary O'Callaghan, a St, Jhon's junior, said in an interview

"Idon't want to put him down or anything, "O' Callaghan added, "but we're really best known for our athletics-we have a lot of work to do academically

O' Callaghan, a communications major and an editor of the st. John's campus weekly, said Reagan was able to draw on "the pep rally spirit" generated by the school's entry into the NCAA basketball semifinal round, in which the team subsequently lost this weekend

As for the president's Harvard comment, O'Callaghan added, the faculty can't stop talking about it."

115 vs. 349

No st.John's faculty or officials could be reached for comment. But a White House spokesman said Friday that Reagan's comments were not intended to indicate that Harvard is too old, despite its 349 years, or any sort of anti-Harvard bias on the part of the Administration

"They certainly weren't meant to suggest that St. John's had surpassed Harvard in academic excellence," said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified. "The remarks were made just to point out the achievements of the university and to say that it was approaching the standards that Harvard represents."

In his speech, Reagan noted that St. John's alumni include the governors of California and New York more than 250 judges, and numerous local and congressional legislators. He also cited the school's high success rate for those taking the bar exam and its record of attracting students from many countries.