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Harvard Watch & Harvard Not For Sale: History repeats itself!

In 1990, when Harvard was in the process of selecting a new President, Harvard students and alumni rallied together to crest Harvard Watch. According to its founders, Harvard Watch was “a broad-based coalition of students and alumni across the University’s schools concerned with corporate governance at Harvard.” Sound familiar? 

Inspiringly the independent and unaffiliated organization advocated a more transparent and accountable administration responsive to the concerns of Harvard students, alumni, and staff. 

At the time, the Harvard community was concerned with Herbert “Pug” Winokur. He was a member of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s seven-member self-selecting governing body, and a longtime member of the Board of Directors at Enron Corporation. He was also the chair of the board’s Finance Committee. In this capacity Winokur reportedly approved the creation of more than 3,000 partnerships and subsidiaries which were allegedly used by Enron to hide debt and avoid taxation. It was alleged that Winokur’s position on the board’s Finance Committee gave him unique access to Enron’s financial structure and should have alerted him to the company’s imminent collapse.

According to Harvard Watch, “during the period in which Enron executives touted the company’s stock to employees, Harvard’s main private investment fund — Highfields Capital short- sold several million shares of Enron stock for an estimated profit of $50 million. Mr. Winokur’s leadership positions at Enron and Harvard raised questions regarding Highfields' massive short-selling transactions, which benefited the Harvard endowment. “

Ralph Nader became a big part of the Harvard Watch movement. The movement stood up to abuse of power, corruption and lack of transparency and did a lot of good. 

Fast forward to 2018. 28 years later and a shockingly similar situation exists (or un-shockingly similar, as Duff Mcdonald would say. Duff is the author of The Golden Passport, a scathing expose of the decline of morals at HBS). 

Is Nitin Nohria today’s Enron type insider? as Tata is buying the influence. Its uncanny (same 50 million) to note that recently TATA has paid $50 million, the largest international donation in the history of HBS in order to buy Tata’s guy, Nohria, the deanship. Tata acted swiftly to and prostitute Harvard (link to articles*) and is vigorously attempting to buy their guy into the presidency. 

It should not take an Enron or SEC announcement of insider trading as it did back in the 90’s, cause people to stand up to the massive conflicts of interest between businesses and academia that NO OTHER ACADEMIC INSTITUTION WOULD ALLOW. 

Harvard Watch members, we need you. 

Ralph Nader, we need you. 

There is too much at stake.