Harvard Prof.: School Should Denounce Faculty Member's Libya Work

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A prominent Harvard professor is calling for the university to denounce the work of another faculty member on behalf of Libya.

Harvard computer science professor Harry Lewis says The Monitor Group, founded by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, was wrong to do consulting work for President Gadhafi's government, and Harvard University should take a public stance against that work.

Harvard President Drew Faust says outside work by faculty members should be done in a "thoughtful and responsible" way.

Lewis called the silence from the university unfortunate.

"I just wish that every now and then, in among all the things we say about how wonderful we are and all the good works that members of our community do, which I sincerely believe are true, that every now and then we would acknowledge when a member of community does something that we should be ashamed of," he said.

Lewis had never met Porter, but says that democracy should only be tagged on democratic things. He says he cited The Economist's 2006 Democracy Index in his report, ranking Libya 161 out of 167 countries.

Lewis isn't calling for new rules or regulations. He isn't accusing Porter of breaking any law. "I'm talking about character and morality, and not all of that can be legislated," he said.

Lewis says he's not calling consulting a bad thing. But he wonders, "Should we be reminded that we can harm the university and the reputations of all of our colleagues in the university when we engage in activities that disgrace it in that way?"

Earlier Coverage:

This program aired on April 6, 2011.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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