The Boston Globe has a news article quoting two anonymous Harvard professors who are quite negative about Paula Broadwell, the biographer who apparently had an extramarital affair with her subject, General David Petraeus. (This, by the way, is a problem I never had with Samuel Adams.)
From the Globe:
One of Broadwell's former professors at Harvard described her as a self-promoter who would routinely show up at office hours.
"It was very much, 'I'm here and you're going to know I'm here,' " said the professor, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of ongoing investigations. "She was not someone you would think of as a critical thinker. I don't remember anything about her as a student. I remember her as a personality."
The professor said when Petraeus chose Broadwell to write his biography, there was shock among the national security faculty at Harvard because "she just didn't have the background — the academic background, the national security background, or the writing background."
A second Harvard faculty member who knows Broadwell and Petraeus had similar misgivings.
At one point, Broadwell said she was leaving the doctorate track because she was overextended and didn't have time to complete the coursework, recounted the professor, who was not authorized to speak to the press.
Broadwell later complained that the writing project on Petraeus was not going well.
"She was a lot of talk but not a lot of follow-through," said the second professor, who described Broadwell's struggle to deliver on the biography as "deeply embarrassing" to the Kennedy School. "That is why she brought on a co-author," Vernon Loeb, an editor at the Washington Post.
My goodness. The professors here may well be violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa) by discussing Ms. Broadwell's academic record without her consent. But never mind the possible illegality; what about the hypocrisy. Are we supposed to believe that the Harvard faculty, or the Kennedy school faculty, consists entirely of people who are not self-promoters and who never showed up at office hours when they were students? Come on.
Let it be a warning to any prospective student considering plunking down the $70,000 or $80,000 that Harvard says one should budget for nine months at the Kennedy School (tuition, room and board, health insurance, books, etc.) If you wind up in the news, your professors will anonymously trash you to the Boston Globe. Maybe I am overreacting, but in my judgment, the actions of the professors in sliming their former student, and the actions of the Globe reporters and their editors in granting them anonymity to do so, are a breach of faith in a relationship (the student-teacher relationship) comparable, if perhaps on a different scale, to the breaches of faith that Ms. Broadwell and General Petraeus apparently made in their marital relationships.
One other point: several Harvard Kennedy school professors are regular contributors to the Globe op-ed page and are paid for their contributions. The Globe doesn't say whether the two professors who talked anonymously about Ms. Broadwell are professors who write regularly for the Globe and who are paid for their contributions. But if they are, it opens up a whole other dimension. These professors are supposed to be doing what is best for Harvard and what is best for their students, not what is best for their own financially profitable relationship with the Boston Globe.
When I was an undergraduate at Harvard about 20 years ago I took four courses at the Kennedy School. I doubt the professors remember me, but if they do, I would be majorly annoyed if any of them said negative things about me in anonymous interviews with the Boston Globe without getting my consent first. It's a betrayal. And finally, you'd think that the professors at the Kennedy School of government, of all places, would be conscious of the principle in the Sixth Amendment, the right to confront your accuser. By hiding behind a veil of anonymity, they are denying their former student that right.