Monday, January 25, 2010

PICKET against job insecurity at Harvard, Thurs 1/28 @ 5 p.m.

Hundreds of Harvard's dining service workers just endured most of January without any pay or unemployment benefits. Many laid-off clerical workers still can't get re-hired, despite months of searching for open positions. Others face long unpaid furloughs, and/or the conversion of their jobs into "seasonal" ones--meaning summers off without pay! Aggravating these problems is the abuse of temp employment. According to the clerical workers' contract, if a temp works 17.5 hrs/wk or more for over 3 months, the position is supposed to be changed to a union job with benefits. Instead, temps all over campus labor for many more months, or even years, without even one paid sick day. A case in point is Dennis Prater. Harvard kept Dennis in several categories of temp employment, while unfairly denying him union benefits, for almost a year, and then laid him off!

Please join us as we rally to encourage Harvard to create more union positions from temp jobs, re-hire the laid off workers, stop the furloughs and other practices that threaten the livelihoods of campus workers! Our picket will take place this Thursday, 1/28, at 5 p.m., at Holyoke Center (1350 Mass. Ave, next to Au Bon Pain, steps from the Harvard T).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Huffington Post on Harvard's Secret Seven

Larry Summers, Robert Rubin: Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country?

by Harry R. Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard and former Dean of Harvard College
Posted: January 12, 2010 07:30 AM

Harvard's Secret Seven

At the heart of the new system of power, says Janine Wedel, is "a decline in loyalty to institutions" and "the proliferation of players who swoop in and out of organizations with which they are affiliated." There is no more vivid example of this phenomenon than Harvard University, which for centuries was held together by institutional loyalty. Today, that loyalty has eroded, and those at the top act much more flexibly. Yet they still enjoy almost unlimited power. Like all forms of mismanagement, Harvard's woes call for transparency and accountability. The story resonates to Washington, where Harvard's power elite is deeply entangled.

Harvard lost $11 billion from its endowment last year, plus another $2 billion by gambling with operating cash and $1 billion in bad bets on interest rate fluctuations. Harvard had been borrowing vast sums to leverage its assets and to expand its physical plant; its president, Lawrence Summers, had described as "extraordinary investments" what ordinary people would call crushing debt. The only way to balance the looming deficits was through huge investment returns. The speculating worked for a while, but when the bubble burst, Harvard was left almost insolvent.

A presidential resignation might have been expected, but Summers, the president most responsible for Harvard's unsustainable growth plan, had resigned already--he is now a top economic adviser to Barack Obama. In any case, plenty of costly mistakes were made after he left. In this era of heightened corporate accountability, one might have expected instead a shake-up of Harvard's board. But Harvard's directors are invulnerable.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Harvard receives $20.5m gift for new Asia studies center

Harvard receives $20.5m gift for new Asia studies center

Will fund program on Indonesia

Benefactor Peter Sondakh and David T. Ellwood, Harvard Kennedy School dean, at the center’s signing ceremony. Benefactor Peter Sondakh and David T. Ellwood, Harvard Kennedy School dean, at the center’s signing ceremony. (Tony Rinaldo for The Boston Globe)

By James F. Smith Globe Staff / January 7, 2010

Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world and the largest Muslim-majority democracy. Yet even at Harvard University, Indonesia has remained among the less studied major Asian nations, overshadowed by China, Japan, and Vietnam.
That is about to change, thanks to a fortuitous connection between an Indonesian business magnate and the Asia expert who heads the Ash Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A $20.5 million gift - described as one of the five largest in the school of government’s 74-year history - is funding a new Institute for Asia and a new Indonesia program.
The Kennedy School yesterday announced the gift from the Rajawali Foundation, the charitable arm of PT Rajawali Corp., one of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates. The company, founded in the early 1980s by owner and director Peter Sondakh, is a major player in cement, retailing, palm oil, hotels, and other industries.
Professor Anthony Saich, director of the renamed Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School, said in an interview that the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia and the new Indonesia Program within it would allow an array of education and research initiatives.