Posts Tagged ‘Presidents’

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The Presidents of Harvard University Vol. 4 – The 20th Century and Beyond

November 14, 2009
Harvard Football

Harvard's football team cherishes its proud recruiting tradition of "taking whoever they can get."

Welcome to the last installment of the Fancy Plans mini-series Presidents of Harvard. As we roll through the 20th century and into the 21st, we continue to wish Harvard the best of luck in all their endeavors, such as cranking out spoiled children with Presidential aspirations and paying lip service to any sport that doesn’t involve a coxswain.

Previous volumes here:
Vol. 1 – The First One Hundred Years
Vol. 2 – The Next Volume
Vol. 3 – The One Before This One

As the turn of the century brought about exciting new changes, Harvard remained steadfast in its refusal to change with the times. Voting women, legal alcohol, smallpox vaccines; whatever it was, the proud Crimson wanted no part of it. The men of Harvard soldiered on, heads and hearts sworn to years past, dying of smallpox left and right.

22. Abbott Lawrence Lowell 1909-1933
As America’s fascination was captured by the “motorcar,” Abbott Lowell took to the halls of Harvard to protest this modern achievement by highlighting the dwindling fortunes of blacksmiths, horseshoe manufacturers and marketers of carriages and buggies. Taking his fight all the way to the halls of Congress, Lowell testified in front of a House Subcommittee with a carefully prepared feltboard presentation that indicated the motorcar’s destructive force on the economy.

He was rebutted by various motorcar manufacturers and their union representatives. Several “rebuttings” occurred, each one more violent than the last. But none was more violent than the last, which hospitalized him for a period of 21 years, a stay that was increased by his frequent bouts with smallpox.

With Lowell out of the picture, the motorcar companies took to the streets in a noisy, smoky black celebration of machinery’s triumph over the common horse. They were joined by representatives from several leading glue factories, early adopters and local musicians Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Vince Clarke.

Lowell emerged from the hospital into the heart of the Great Depression, which led directly to his depression and several remarks of “What’s so fucking great about it?” He was asked to leave Harvard after three straight weeks of “mellow harshing.”

Affectionately known as “Bud.”

23. James Bryant Conant 1933-1953
Running an elitist school in the middle of the Great Depression was no easy task and J.B. Conant clearly wasn’t up for it. As admissions dwindled and various executives were forced to mortgage their third houses (especially those on St. Charles Place and Kentucky), Conant was frequently asked to come up with some sort of desperation plan to stem the hemorrhaging cash flow.

His first plan, “Passing the Hat,” was met with student riots, often composed of up to five extremely wealthy upperclassmen. His next plan, “Fee For All,” which added surcharges for such student services as “oxygen above the third floor” and “hot water on Tuesdays and Thursdays” was met with more rioting, completely contained in Alfie Moorehead’s dorm room.

By the time his last plan was enacted (1947), the nation has long since pulled out of the Depression and fought a major war. His final effort, titled “Admissions Are Up For Some Reason,” won him the attention of competing schools, who were dealing with dwindling student bodies.

Conant jumped ship to Rutgers for a lucrative two-year contract and spent his final months wildly vacillating on the retirement issue. After several stop-and-start sessions, Conant was finally put out of everyone’s misery by a back alley lobotomy performed by Harvard and Rutgers alumi in a rare display of cross-academic cooperation.

Affectionately known as “Senor Droolcup.”

24. Nathan Marsh Pusey 1953-1971
Already well past his prime (and burdened with an unfortunate surname) by the time he took office, Pusey was unprepared both mentally and physically for the upheaval his country was about to go through.

Other board members would often find themselves cornered at the local country club by an irate and bombed Pusey, who would rant about how “he didn’t get shot in the back by his own platoon in Iwo Jima just to see a bunch of scraggly potheads start rewriting the rule books.”

Pusey spent 19 long years being offended by everything, including (but not limited to) peace marches, bra-burning, the Symbionese Liberation Army, M*A*S*H* (the movie), M*A*S*H* (the TV show), the oddly exciting piano stylings of Jerry Lee Lewis, the oddly exciting marriage of Jerry Lee Lewis to his 13-year-old cousin, “that shirtless and godless Igward Pop,” public displays of affection and the unchecked rise of progressive rock.

Pusey responded to these perceived threats by shuttering his windows, tuning his wireless to the Paul Harvey Show and glaring thru slitted eyes (and shutters) at the “future of America,” most of whom were making love not war right out there on the lawn.

He spent his self-imposed exile penning angry letters to the editor and composing his 1,500-page screed against everything. He retired in 1971 to spend his twilight years as a self-appointed authority on the many wrongs perpetuated by today’s youth.

Affectionately known as “Don ‘Puppy’ Mills.”

25. Derek Bok 1971-1991
Already well past his prime, etc. but without quite as unfortunate a surname as his predecessor, Bok was throughly unprepared for the upheaval ahead of him, and indeed, his country.

Riding out the Vietnam Years as the head of “Draft Dodger U.,” Bok applied his expertise in the business field to found Harvard’s MBA program, which continues to produce overpaid executives to this day.

Having dodged a bullet with the Vietnam situation (along with a majority of his students), Bok made the first of several missteps when he took the position of Goodwill Ambassador to India for Union Carbide. Having survived this unfortunate event, Bok swiftly returned to Harvard’s angry mod-free halls only to be near-fatally wounded during the first inaugural “Jodie Foster Appreciation Day.”

Bok wisely decided to lay low during the rest of his term, often malingering at the local hospital with claims of “hypochondria” and “sucking chest wounds.” He retired in 1991, citing fears of a “coming upheaval in rock and roll, once which I am wholly unprepared to deal with,” adding “No wonder they call it ‘grunge.’ They can’t rightly call it music, can they?”

Affectionately known as “The Angel of Death.”

26. Neil L. Rudenstine 1991-2001
Following in a long line of privileged insiders, Rudenstine took the helm at Harvard during what was no doubt a tumultuous time. Neil made several overtures to his students in an effort to “rap” with them about their fears and doubts. These were rebuffed via the usual protests and riots, most notably the furor over the brief change in Harvard commencement gowns towards a more fashionable plaid.

Rudenstine spent many long hours and great deal of alumni donations attempting to win the hearts and minds of the student body with little to no success. Undeterred, he continued to spend money and ingratiate himself, which earned him the scorn of the student body and their parents.

Forced to rethink his efforts, Rudenstine tackled the problem head-on, utilizing market research and large quantities of booze. Using the “correlation=causation” theory, Rudenstine rationalized that most drunks are happy and a drunken student body would be a happy student body.

He was asked to step down when it became clear that a “drunken student body” more often equalled “paternity suits” or “violent police actions.” His final statement issued a final, drunken “fuck you” to both students and faculty alike, and closed with vaguely worded threats. He was last spotted plying the University of Kansas student body with grain alcohol and waiver forms.

Affectionately known as “Bob and.”

27. Lawrence H. Summers 2001-2006
Summers took the position of president in 2001, vowing to “stay indoors” and “lay low.” He followed through remarkably, showing up for the occasional commencement or formal dinner.

In addition to signing purchase orders and vacation requests, Summers took control of the most-under-control purchasing department. His even hand and temperament soon led to unchecked spending and the eventual dismissal of most of his staff for embezzlement.

His lesson learned, Summers attempted to take the hard-line against future abuses. He soon found his heart wasn’t in it. In fact, he soon found his heart wasn’t really in it for nearly any position or activity, and died of early-onset monotony during a long, uneventful drive to his summer home in the Hamptons. He expired behind the wheel and coasted to a quiet stop well within the lines of the shoulder, where he was found nearly immediately and buried during a small, but respectfully quiet ceremony.

Affectionately knowns as “The President, Whose Name Escapes Me.”

-CLT

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The Presidents of Harvard University Vol. 3 – Wrapping Up the Nineteenth Century

November 2, 2009
Harvard continues to exclude outsiders through their use of a made-up language.

Harvard continues to keep information from outsiders through their proprietary made-up language.

This volume (3, for those keeping score) takes us through the last half of a tumultuous century, which saw a civil war, the rise of the railroad, the advent of opium addiction, the blaming of said railroad workers, the “railroading” of said opium-addicted railroad workers, various land grabs, tangles with Spain and Little Spain (Mexico) and the peak of beard popularity.

Harvard, of course, was not affected by any of these things. The hallowed and insular institution continued to crank out upper class snobs and privileged twits like no other college in America (and I’m including Ole Miss).

Let’s take a stroll into the turn of the century with the presidents of Harvard, whose tenacity and shortsightedness allowed them to circumvent the “progression” of the rest of the United States.

16. Edward Everett 1846-1849
Everett’s four-year term was most noted for his introduction of “panty raids.” The first several attempts were aimed at Yale who, much like Harvard, were still only providing men with higher education. Despite this hurdle, the imagination of the Crimson allowed them to return from each raid with hundreds of pairs of “man panties” or “Yalie thongs.”

Everett attempted to spice up these same-sex raids by introducing various bills to Congress (through his well-endowed lobbyists) suggesting that some major schools be forced to allow women to enroll. Needless to say, these efforts failed (although not for a lack of endowment) as Congress, and indeed the rest of the country (including the railroad workers) viewed women as second-class citizens who could not be trusted with an education, living wage or even childbirth, considering the infant mortality rate.

Everett’s term came to an end after a panty raid on Vanderbilt resulted in the capture of female undergarments. These never-before-seen items caused severe mental trauma in those who had seen them and life-threatening psychosis in the few who had actually touched the items. After the fourth sniper attack in as many weeks, Everett was asked to step down and run (in a zig zag pattern) across the quad to his waiting buggy.

Affectionately known as “Sniper Victim #23.”

17. Jared Sparks 1849-1853
Jared Sparks is credited with introducing a successful line of weight loss programs into the normal curricula of Harvard. Sparks would often entertain his fellow officers with thrilling tales of weight loss through careful sandwich selection. Although very popular (and inspiring) at first, Sparks constant reminders and detail-heavy anecdotes about which sandwich he had eaten and how many “fat cells” were contained in each resulted in a massive backlash which heavily damaged the local food cart economy.

Sparks was finally asked to step down when his normally long-winded diatribes on meatball subs and other anti-masturbatorial foods began to arrive in the form of short sentences which were hand-written and delivered at random intervals to whomever happened to be close by. Close associates were overheard muttering about his incessant twittering and overused “fat pants” visual metaphor.

Affectionately known as “Fuck You, Sandwich Boy.”

18. James Walker 1853-1860
To know James Walker was to love him, or rather, be “loved” by him. An ego-centric womanizer until his deathbed conversion to the Symbionese Liberation Army, Walker aided and a-bedded (sorry) over 8,000 women in 8 years. As his constant scoring began to eat into his time as president, JW would often let his second-in-command, James Walker Jr. VII run the place, much to the dissatisfaction of the other Harvard officers, who saw their money being blown on candy bars and hookers and their daughters being knocked up left and right.

Walker would have lost his post much earlier if he hadn’t exercised Harvard’s “privileged insider” clause, which allowed him to live life by a different standard than the enrollees and at least some of the officers. He also used a 120-year old typo to grant himself “eminent domain” in matters related to the wives and daughters of all Harvard students and employees.

With so much going for him, Walker’s abrupt retirement came as a surprise. While Walker issued a statement referring to his “desire for a quiet life of banging random chicks, away from the day-to-day pressures of running Harvard (and banging random Harvard-related chicks),” but many of his contemporaries speculated that perhaps his “dick” had “just fallen off.”

Affectionately known as “Wilt.”

19. Cornelius Conway Felton 1860-1862*
Felton presided over an era that came to be known as “The Shortest Era Ever.” As the figurative head of Harvard, Felton spent most of his time fulfilling ceremonial duties such as groundbreaking, large novelty-check signing, baptisms, circumcisions, Hot or Not tie breakers, pancake breakfasts, mass burials and the occasional Live Aid concert.

Though Felton’s stay in office was brief, he spent each moment as if it were his last: by begging forgiveness from various deities and sobbing inconsolably. As his private sobbing and praying began to intrude on his more public duties, the Harvard officers began to work on an “early retirement” plan.

Things came to a head at a groundbreaking ceremony for the above ground pool. Felton seized the oversized ribbon-cutting scissors and attempted to slash his wrists. He was wrestled to the ground by his fellow board members and remanded to the state, which soon remanded him to the local crazyhouse, at which point the staffers remanded him to his surviving family, which bequeathed him, still alive, to Harvard University. He lived out his final years as a living statue of himself.

Affectionately known as “Three-and-out.”

*Died in office as a result of statuefication. See also: Goldfinger.

20. Thomas Hill 1862-1868
A tireless opium addict and eccentric inventor, Hill spent a majority of his seven-year term trying to perfect his “gravity bong/scientific calculator” prototype. Most historians point to his concentration on the first half to be the reason the second half was never able to get its ass of the couch or come up with rent money.

As Hill continued to chase the double dragons of drug paraphernalia (Billy Lee) and scientific calculation (Jimmy Lee), the Harvard board members acted quickly to revoke his severance pay and change the locks. He was finally ousted during an 18-hour marathon intervention in which the board members pretended to care about his health and whatnot. Hill responded by vomiting and passing out in the hall closet. He awoke 4 hours later to find his belongings (including himself) on the lawn. The rest is history. Boring history.

Affectionately known as “C. Thomas Howell.”

21. Charles William Eliot 1869-1909
Eliot lived to see the turn of the century, much to the dismay of several local bookies. An inveterate gambler and loudmouthed braggart, Eliot so ired the local townspeople that the remaining board members retired and changed their names. Indeed, the hallowed halls themselves were tainted by his filthy habits, as local thugs repoed the above ground pool, second billiards table, the K-M sections of the bleachers and the letters “R” and “D.”

After one close call with a lynching party, CW took to hiding himself in the lower levels of the undergraduate library, subsisting on hardtack and book binding. After 22 years in seclusion, Eliot returned to the surface to find the campus nearly deserted. Rather than let the proud metaphorical ship Harvard continue to drift listlessly, CW took the helm (metaphorically) and proceeded to rape and pillage Yale (not metaphorically).

At the behest of yet another lynching party (working in conjunction with local mobsters), Eliot was lynched. Due to a lack of proper tools or measurements, Eliot was suspended only four feet off the ground and was unable to properly asphyxiate.

Given a mulligan by the angry townsfolk, Eliot returned underground, eventually resurfacing to party like it’s “1899.”

Known affectionately as “Goddamned Lucky.”

-CLT