Former University President Lawrence H. Summers is never afraid to voice his opinions, especially when it comes to matters of higher education. In a recent Washington Post interview, Summers addressed Harvard's issues of grade inflation, research-focused professors, and the lack of a mandatory faculty retirement age, particularly as they relate to his experiences at Harvard.
Summers said that grade inflation was a problem, claiming that no one can get below a C in a seminar class. He trivialized graduating with honors at Harvard, where, according to Summers, it was more unique to graduate without them than with them when he started at the University. With respect to teaching time, Summers said he sports figurative battle scars from fighting professors to return to the classroom instead of focusing on research.
In the interview Summers also acknowledged that a change in culture was brought about during his tenure at Harvard, but conceded that some professors' work beyond the classroom is of greater importance, like the research of Danish physicist Neils Bohr or the writing of philosopher Robert Nozick.
Summers said the lack of mandatory retirement stunts the arrival of fresh talent among faculty and increases an unsettling age gap between instructors and students, describing the lack of a mandatory faculty retirement age as "deeply toxic." Though critical of these particular issues, Summers still referred to higher education as "one of America's huge strengths."