George, thanks so much for posting Drew Faust’s comments. Now, let me first state that I have tremendous respect for much of her scholarly work. For example, The Republic of Suffering is a fascinating and profoundly moving book.
That being said, however, the comment you highlight (“As the world indulged in a bubble of false prosperity and excessive materialism, should universities — in their research, teaching and writing — have made greater efforts to expose the patterns of risk and denial?”) nearly made me spit out my morning coffee. Is there an institution that was more captivated by “bubble investing” than Harvard? We’re talking about a university that lost at least $8 billion in the crash, is in the midst of a cash crunch, has frozen faculty salaries, has offered early retirement to 1,600 workers, and in June “stunned” workers by laying off 275.
The truth of the matter is that universities were only too happy to ride the gravy train and invest massive dollars in the very “bubble of false prosperity and excessive materialism” Faust now decries. They may mock Wall Street now, but in many ways — with their tens of billions of dollars in unwise investments and consequent staggering losses — universities were Wall Street.