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Bennett Praises Bok, Despite Long Rivalry

By Brian R. Hecht

Former Secretary of Education and current drug policy adviser William Bennett, one of President Derek C. Bok's most outspoken critics, said in an interview with The Crimson today that although he disagrees with Bok, the president's resignation will be a loss to Harvard.

"President Bok has served Harvard well and I think he served with distinction," Bennett said. "I respect Derek Bok a hell of a lot," he said.

Bennett said that although he strongly disagrees with Bok's philosophy of higher education, he respects his willingness to discuss the issue intelligently. "I do not agree with everything he says, but he takes the questions seriously," Bennett said.

"Hell, I came to Harvard and gave a very serious speech about Harvard," Bennet recalled. "He showed up and answered me, which is more than I can say for Stanford."

Bennett strongly opposes the Core Curriculum and the idea of a socially active university, both of which Bok strongly defends. Today, Bennett reiterated his differences with Bok on issues of higher education.

"The main responsibility of a university is to train people intelligently and morally," Bennett said. "The notion of a corporate responsibility is very difficult for a University to pull off."

Bennett predicted that Harvard's Core Curriculum will survive Bok's resignation, because of strong support from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). "No disrespect intended, but Derek Bok has tended to listen to the judgement of the Faculty," Bennett said. "But that judgement is defective," said Bennett, who called the core a "convenience for the faculty."

But Bennett said he personally thinks very highly of Bok, who was his professor at Harvard Law School. "He was one of the best professors I had," Bennett said.

"But he gave me a 'B,' so we have always had this division," he added.

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