Check out the website:  Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.  Len’s Letter #38 Regulating Corporate Capitalism, Len’s Letter #39  Israeli Democracy Is Different From Ours

\050121         Len’s Letter #40   The Ivy League

2021               Governing  Universities

Harvard                         Yale                              Howard

On April 7, the New York Times published an Op-Ed by David Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, arguing that Stanford should clone itself.  So should Harvard.  Kirp imagined a Yale-Houston, a Harvard-San Diego.  He wasn’t clear where the cloned Stanford campus would go.

Kirp imagined that these clones would increase diversity at elite universities.  I’m not sure that these clones would achieve his goal.  More than likely, some of the 93% of students who apply, but do not get into Harvard, would apply and get into Harvard-San Diego at the same diversity distribution rate.

Kirp’s proposal didn’t get positive response from New York Times readers (at least not from the letters selected by the Times).  One person suggested the money required for clones could be better spent by paying off student loans.  Another suggested Yale-Houston would be an attack on Rice, a great university in Houston.  A third thought we should find a way to de-emphasize name-brand schools.

Me.  I have a suggestion that has been sitting in my draft Letters for some time.  It is a way to increase the diversity of Ivy League schools that is simpler and more effective.  Because it accepts the values of the American elite, it has an element of arrogance.  And it might be expensive, but not in the way that starting a series of new schools would be expensive.

Before the Ivy League schools were the Ivy League, they produced white Protestant religious leaders and then political and business leaders for what we would consider the elite.   In 1954, the eight schools that became the Ivy League joined together to form an athletic conference – the Ivy League.  The athletic conference somehow did a lot for the academic reputations of the eight schools (not that they needed it), especially those that joined with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.  (Some people never forget.  When he was a law student, Ted Cruz, a Princeton graduate, famously insisted that his study group at Harvard Law School not include anyone from the “lesser Ivies.”)

The Ivy League still serves and creates America’s elite.  Alan Dershowitz and Laura Haft argued in a Cardozo Law Review Article that Harvard’s admission policies for undergraduates are designed to ensure continuation of a white Protestant elite rather than to achieve diversity.  Nevertheless, the College Monk (which asks that their information not be used for commercial purposes) reports that the white population of Ivies ranges from 40 to 50% (a quarter to a third of the whites are Jewish).  Asians range between 10 and 20%, Latinx between 8 and 12% (a higher percent for the two New York Ivies), and African Americans are in single digits (except for Harvard which is higher).  They don’t report what percentage of Ivy undergraduates are Roman Catholics or Evangelical Christians.

The College Monk figures don’t apply to the Ivies’ graduate schools.  The  demographics are important and make a difference in the real world.  The reaction to voter suppression is an example of how non-white graduates of elite schools can have an impact.

The Georgia state legislature adopted a voter suppression law in 2021 and corporate leaders were castigated for not attempting to stop them.  Two African-American CEOs, Ken Frazier of Merck (BA Penn State, JD Harvard) and Ken Chenault formerly CEO of American Express (BA Bowdoin, JD Harvard) were helped by other African American business leaders – Mellody Hobson, CEO of Ariel Investments (BA Princeton) and Tony West, Chief Legal Officer of Uber (BA Harvard, JD Stanford). They organized and persuaded Georgia’s major white corporate figures that there was something seriously wrong with the new Georgia law.  As a result, Georgia business leaders Ed Bastian, CEO Delta (BA St. Bonaventure) and James Quincey, CEO Coca Cola (BA Liverpool — English though his father taught at Dartmouth for a while) have turned against Georgia’s new law.  As additional states consider following Georgia’s lead, corporate leaders in those states are mobilizing to oppose voter suppression laws.

My suggestion for increased Ivy League diversity is to add existing universities to the Ivy League, schools which have a different pedigree. Remember.  The Ivy League is an athletic conference. There has been a spate of changes recently in the make up of several athletic conferences around the country.  The changes appear to have been intended to enhance television revenue from football games.

A change in the Ivy League would have a different purpose. It would make the Ivy League more diverse and change our understanding of the American elite. My suggestion is to make those changes while retaining the East Coast character of the Ivy League and keeping certain essential characteristics of the existing Ivy League schools.

First, look at the current members of the Ivy League. They are listed below with their US News and World Report ranking among National Universities noted.

Brown.  Ranked #14 among national universities.  Located in Providence, RI. Founded in 1764. Undergraduate enrollment is slightly over 7,000.  Its endowment is $4 Billion.

Columbia. Ranked #3 among national universities.  Located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York, NY. Undergraduate enrollment is over 6,000.  Founded in 1754.  Endowment is $11 Billion.

Cornell Ranked #18 among national universities.  Located in Ithaca, NY.  Undergraduate enrollment is a little over 15,000.  Founded in 1865. Endowment is $7 Billion

Dartmouth. Ranked #13 among national universities.  Located in Hanover, NH.  Founded in 1769.  Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 4,500.  Its endowment is around $5.7 Billion.

Harvard. Ranked #2 among national universities.  Located in Cambridge, MA. Founded in 1636. Undergraduate enrollment is less than 7,000.  Endowment is $40.9 Billion

Pennsylvania.  Ranked #8 among national universities.  Located in Philadelphia, PA.  Founded in 1740. Undergraduate enrollment is just over 10,000 Endowment is $14.6 Billion

Princeton.  Ranked #1 among national universities.  Located in Princeton, NJ.  Founded in 1746.  Undergraduate enrollment is about 5,500.  Endowment is $25.6 Billion.

Yale.  Ranked #4 among national universities.  Located in New Haven, CT. Founded in 1601.  Undergraduate enrollment is just over 6,000.  Endowment is $30.3 Billion

These are all private universities although Cornell has a modest public component.   All are co-ed.  All but Cornell became co-ed after the middle of the 20th century.  Only Columbia still has a separate women’s college, Barnard.  Despite the existence of Barnard, Columbia admits women.  All are on the east coast, though Cornell is pretty far inland.  While this is an athletic conference, all eight schools agree not to award athletic scholarships.  All retain an infatuation with American football.  They play in the NCAA Division 1 football championship division and offer the opportunity to play several other sports.  All have outstanding graduate programs in addition to their competitive undergraduate programs.

Twelve universities wouldn’t be a bad number for the Ivy League instead of eight.  The Ivy League would be more diverse if it were to add two Catholic universities and two Historically Black Universities.   The Ivy League could continue to be composed of coed, private universities with excellent undergraduate programs, outstanding graduate programs, multiple sports, no athletic scholarships, and Division I NCAA Championship division for football.

Here are Catholic universities that are potential members. Adding two Catholic Universities to the Ivy League would create diversity that reflects changes in American society since 1954 and earlier.

 Georgetown.  Ranked #23 among national universities.  Located in Washington, DC, Founded in 1789. Undergraduate enrollment is about 7,500.  Endowment is $1.8 Billion. It relies on athletic scholarships to play national level basketball.

Villanova. Ranked #53 among national universities.  Located in Philadelphia, PA.  Founded in 1842.  Endowment is $.7 Billion. Relies on athletic scholarships to play at the highest level of college  basketball.

Fordham.  Ranked #66 among national universities.  Located in New York, NY.  Founded in 1841.  Undergraduate enrollment is less than 10,000.  Endowment is $.7 Billion.

Holy Cross Ranked  #36 among national colleges.  Located in Worcester, MA. Founded in 1843,  Undergraduate enrollment is more than 3,000.  Endowment is $.8 Billion.

Providence College.  Ranked #1 among regional universities in the North.  Located in Providence, RI.  Founded in 1917.  Undergraduate enrollment approaches 4,500.  Endowment is $.2 Billion.  Graduate programs are not at a national level.  Offers athletic scholarships and seeks to play basketball at a national level.  Does not play football.

Two outstanding Catholic Universities warrant mention, but It is unimaginable that they would have an interest in the Ivy League.  They are Notre Dame, ranked #19 among national universities and Boston College, ranked #35 among national universities.

Reflect for a minute.  Consider how the Ivy League would change. Consider how it would remain the same.  If Georgetown or Villanova or Fordham or Holy Cross or Providence were part of the Ivy League.  If two of them were.  Adding these universities would not be cost-free. Consider the help Foundations might be asked to provide, the help that the existing Ivies would have to provide, to support or match alumni fund raising efforts needed to bring endowments to the level of the least well-endowed of the existing Ivies.

Now consider what the Ivy League would be like if it were to also add two Historically Black Universities. That would be a step toward diversity for the nation.  Are there two universities in the list below which would join the Ivy League if invited?

 Howard.  Ranked #80 among national universities.  Located in Washington DC.  Founded in 1867. Undergraduate enrollment is about 6,500.  Endowment is $.7 Billion.

Spelman and Morehouse. Spelman is ranked #54 among national liberal arts college; Morehouse is ranked #155.   Spelman is a single sex, female university founded in 1881.  Morehouse is a single sex male university founded in 1867.  Undergraduate enrollment at Spelman is more than 2,000; Morehouse enrollment approaches 2,500.  Spelman’s endowment is $.4 Billion; Morehouse’s is unavailable.  I link them together for this purpose. These schools do have social and academic links, but are entirely separate institutions.

Hampton University. Ranked #217 among national universitiesLocated in Hampton, Virginia.  Founded in 1868. Undergraduate enrollment is 3,700.  Endowment is $.3 Billion

Tuskegee University. Ranked #20 among regional universities in the South.   Located in Tuskegee, Alabama.  Founded in 1881.  Undergraduate enrollment approaches 2,500. Graduate programs are not at a national level.  Endowment is more than $.1 Billion.

Claflin University.  Ranked #9 among regional colleges in the South.  Located in Orangeburg, SC.  Founded in 1869.  Undergraduate enrollment is 2,000.  There are few graduate programs and they are not at a national level.  Does not have a football team.  Endowment is less than $.1 Billion.

The financial effort for adding two of these schools to the Ivy League would be more daunting than the financial effort related to adding two Roman Catholic schools.  Nevertheless, adding two (or three if we think about Spelman and Morehouse) to the Ivy League and achieving that addition with an appropriate endowment could transform our understanding of what an elite institution is in America and who are members of the elite are.

I’ll stop here except to ask what could happen to further expand the Ivy League and our understanding of what elite means.  The Ivies could explore the universities in Puerto Rico to in order to an additional school.  Just as American Universities have campuses in Japan, an elite Japanese university could consider a campus in the United States.  There are Jewish founded universities – Yeshiva in New York City and Brandeis in a Boston suburb  – that could be candidates.  (A 1960s April Fools Day issue of the student newspaper announced that Brandeis had been invited to join the Ivy League on the condition that the names of the buildings be changed.  The “newspaper” said the university agreed and the donors of the funds for the buildings agreed to change their names to match the new names of the buildings.)

Today, however, is May 1, not April 1.  A festival of spring?  A day for recognizing workers?  A day for recognizing cultural differences?  Make today a day for thinking about how a changed Ivy League could create change in America.