Sweet Caroline

Harvard must do all it can to keep Hoxby

Harvard’s 11 schools and 11,000 faculty are greater than any one person. Nevertheless, a few professors stand out not just as academic stars, but also as inspirational teachers and upstanding members of the community. Professor of Economics Caroline M. Hoxby ’88, who, we are sad to note, is considering moving to Stanford University, is one of these rare professors that Harvard should make every effort to keep.

Hoxby is exactly the type of young and dynamic academic star that Harvard’s faculty and administration value so highly. She has quickly established herself as one of the world’s foremost experts on the economics of education. Tenured just seven years after receiving her Ph.D., Hoxby is only the second woman to receive tenure in the Department of Economics and the first to successfully rise through the ranks here at Harvard.

Her professional accomplishments are a chronology of continuous success. She directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Economics of Education program, and she has won several prestigious awards and grants. She also has a distinguished record of public service–recently adding an appointment to the National Board of Education Sciences to her ever-growing CV. She is even rumored to be on the short list for the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark Medal, which is given biannually to an economist under 40 and is second only to the Nobel Prize in prestige.

While her academic achievements alone are enough to make her an indispensable asset to the University, she is also one of the most renowned teachers at Harvard. Her CUE guide ratings set her apart from nearly all of her peers. She has one of the highest professor ratings, and 38% of her students called her the best professor they have had at Harvard.

But beyond mere numbers, testimonials from Professor Hoxby’s students speak volumes. A great lecturer and discussion leader, students say she makes an effort to go behind the facts to teach students how to analyze and synthesize data, research, and concepts. She also relishes student interaction and encourages students to do original and publishable research projects at the cutting edges of the field. One student said that what is so remarkable about Professor Hoxby is that she teaches with the intention of making a difference, enabling her students to “address [educational] problems and fix them, whether through politics, policy, or publication.” In short, she is in all aspects exactly the kind of professor every Harvard student wants.

Professor Hoxby is also a distinguished and important member of the Harvard community. She has been at the forefront of the fight to increase the number of females and minorities receiving tenure as a member of the Standing Committee on Women. As an African-American woman in a field dominated by white males, Professor Hoxby is a role model for female and minority academics, the type of role model that Harvard is privileged to employ.


We understand that considerations outside the control of anyone in Cambridge may influence Professor Hoxby’s decision to stay at Harvard. Nevertheless, we call on all members of the Harvard community—particularly President Summers, her colleagues in the Economics Department, and her students—to do everything they can to keep her at Harvard. While we may not be able to match Palo Alto’s weather, we must show Professor Hoxby how important she is to us in Cambridge.