Nature on Summers

This is a good editorial in Nature on why Summers should stay, at least for now. Most of the arguments--both pro and anti resignation--have been hijacked by political pundits, especially those on the right who try in some roundabout way to equate Summers with Ward Churchill in Colorado to come up with a hokus-pokus scenario in which everything would be better if only academic departments could be forced to hire some elusive crowd of conservative academics that are out there somewhere working McDonalds jobs because of their political view. In reality, of course, most of the conservative-academic pool the pundits would draw from for their imagined utopia are quite happy pulling in multi-million dollar salaries at conservative think-tanks, and Churchill is as much of a loon for saying what he did than Falwell was for saying that 9-11 was caused by gays. Moreover, in the strange twist of history we call American politics, one of them is now a pundit on CNN calling for the other's resignation, guess who. Back to the article:

"The head of Harvard University leaves much to be desired in terms of tact and demonstrable respect for those who disagree with him. But the university should stick with him, at least for the time being."


"For one thing, Summers has become a champion of scientific research at Harvard. He wants the university to invest heavily in scientific facilities and to establish a better environment for interdisciplinary research. He wants greater collaboration and synergy between research groups and departments than some academics would naturally adopt. And he expects scientific institutions to form the core of the university's massive expansion into the Allston campus."

He needs to get his act together, but will ultimately do the right thing.