By Karen Zhou

Faculty Overwhelmingly Donate to Clinton

Ninety-one percent of contributions to current presidential candidates made by Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers in 2015 went to former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.
By Idrees M. Kahloon, Melissa C. Rodman, and Luca F. Schroeder

Ninety-one percent of contributions to current presidential candidates made by Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers in 2015 went to former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, according to a Crimson analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

Between April and December of 2015, a total of 81 Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers donated roughly $131,000 to the presidential campaigns of Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Of the individuals who donated, 37 gave the maximum contribution for the primary period—$2,700—to Clinton.

Of total donations, just $8,850 went to Republican candidates Bush, Rubio, and Christie. The remaining $3,290 in donations went to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. All other candidates—including GOP frontrunners Donald J. Trump and Ted Cruz, who came first in the Iowa caucuses last week—received no contributions from Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers listed in the FEC filings.

For this story, The Crimson analyzed the federal donations of contributors who reported Harvard University as their employer and were listed in Harvard directories and websites as professors, lecturers, fellows, associates, researchers, and scientists, as well as visiting fellows and professors. The data set does not include students or administrators who are not listed as teachers or researchers.

Donations from faculty members with appointments at multiple schools at Harvard only counted toward the total of the school at which they hold primary appointments.

For candidate committees, contributions are limited to $2,700 a person for each of the primary and general elections. A small portion of the funds included in this analysis— less than $500—are already reserved for the general election, since contributors may elect to give over $2,700 during the primary phase of an election that may only be spent if their chosen candidate receives the nomination.

The contributions data are made public in quarterly filings to the Federal Election Commission. The figures do not include contributions made to super PACs and nonprofits groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code that engage in electioneering communications, and excludes contributions made to candidates who have since dropped out of the race.


Instructors and researchers at the Business School contributed the most money to presidential candidates in 2015, donating $36,600 overall, while those with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences contributed a total of roughly $26,000, the next largest contribution total per Harvard school.

All donations from FAS researchers and instructors went to Sanders and Clinton, as did all contributions from their peers at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Medical School, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Design. Former University President Lawrence H. Summers and former Kennedy School Dean Graham T. Allison both contributed the primary election limit of $2,700 to Clinton.

Two Business School instructors contributed $5,400 to GOP candidates—the highest amount of support of all of Harvard’s schools. The only other Republican donor was Law School lecturer Norm Champ, who contributed to the Christie and Rubio campaigns.

By Pradeep Niroula

Government professor Theda R. Skocpol, who donated $650 to Clinton’s campaign, said she was not surprised by faculty donations thus far.

“We know that business leaders and very wealthy private fortunes tilt towards the conservative and Republican side, and we know that professors tilt towards the liberal and Democratic side—that’s been true for a long time,” Skocpol said.

The results mirror a similar data analysis conducted by the Crimson last spring, which found that 84 percent of contributions made by a comparable group of Harvard affiliates between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees. Several major donors listed during that time period, including Law School dean Martha Minow and Dunster House Master Roger B. Porter, did not make a campaign contribution last year for the 2016 presidential race.

With many of her Harvard contributors giving the $2,700 cap, Clinton received an average donation from those individuals of about $1,263. Sanders, by contrast, received an average contribution of roughly $89.

Skocpol noted, however, that since the contributions analyzed end last December, the data may not capture the surge of support Sanders has seen over the past month. Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by a wide margin late Tuesday evening.

“That was a period when it wasn’t 100 percent clear there was going to be a huge amount of competition in the Democratic primary,” Skocpol said.


When Barack Obama ran for his first term in 2007, he turned to Harvard academics—among them applied economics professor David M. Cutler ’87, and public policy professor Jeffrey B. Liebman—for policy advice. And former professors of his at the Law School—such as Laurence H. Tribe—hosted fundraisers for him.

Texas senator Ted Cruz, who attended Harvard Law, has received no contributions from Harvard faculty thus far according to the FEC filings.

While there is no immediate Harvard connection in the Democratic field, Skocpol predicted that Harvard experts would provide policy advice for the Democratic candidates, especially Clinton.

Graduate School of Education professor Howard E. Gardner ’65 said professors—especially those directly involved in presidential campaigns—should separate their political views from their teaching in the classroom.

“I think basically one needs to monitor oneself and one needs to be as politically disinterested and neutral when you’re dealing with your role as a teacher,” Gardner said.

“When faculty take off a whole term to work for a candidate, they really have to cut their ties with students [during that time],” he added.

Skocpol agreed that professors should separate their roles as citizens and instructors, and set aside what they “wish would happen” when conducting research for “what is actually happening out there.” She noted, however, that reported contributions from faculty are relatively insignificant and not those of the greatest importance or concern.

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.

—Staff writer Luca F. Schroeder can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @lucaschroeder.

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