Larry Summers gets it done


Obscured by the recent pseudo—controversy is Larry Summers's bold program to recruit poorer students to Harvard. This might be a way to address the entire affirmative action program issue since many feel that poverty is what needs to be addressed, not discrimination. Larry Summers gets no credit for this because, perhaps, it confronts this issue in a logical, honest, non—demagogic way.

``Harvard is one of the great prestigious institutions and a real catalyst for people's lives and careers,'' says Lloyd Blankfein, 50, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the third— biggest U.S. securities firm.

Blankfein, a postal worker's son who grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, says he couldn't have graduated from Harvard in 1975 without financial aid and says he's a big fan of Summers's economic diversity push.

Last year, Summers eliminated parental contributions for students whose families earn less than $40,000 a year, and reduced it for those whose families make $40,000 to $60,000.

In three speeches last year, he decried the growing inequality between rich and poor in higher education.

He said studies showed that at the nation's most selective colleges and universities, 3 percent of students come from families with incomes in the lowest 25 percent and about 75 percent come from families in the top 25 percent.

He said that gap has to narrow.

``It is more urgent than ever before, because one in five American children now has a foreign—born parent, and the children of immigrants are twice as likely to be poor,'' he told the Washington—based American Council on Education in February 2004.

Under Summers's direction, Harvard's admissions staff is recruiting throughout the country for qualified applicants who can't afford Harvard's estimated annual tuition and room—and—board costs of $44,000.

Summers's search for a more diverse student body comes as he's under attack by his own faculty for failing to hire and promote women.

Ed Lasky   3 6 05