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Conservative Harvard professor reflects on six decades of being the underdog
Hoover Institution

Vocally political professor opposes affirmative action, gay marriage

Outspokenly conservative politics Professor Harvey Mansfield, retiring this year, reflected on his career and how Harvard has changed during his tenure in a recent article in The Harvard Crimson. 

After teaching for six decades, Mansfield’s students have “included many famous names: the conservative thinker and former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle Bill Kristol ’73, the political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, and Republican Senator Tom Cotton ’99, a former Crimson Editorial editor.”

Over his long career on the faculty, Mansfield “has spent plenty of time arguing against affirmative action and grade inflation at Harvard, which he said are ‘my two causes,'” The Crimson reported.

Mansfield praised the Supreme Court ruling last month declaring race-conscious admissions unconstitutional, The Crimson reported at the time.

“It came as a pleasure — you could say a joy,” Mansfield told the paper.

Mansfield is known for other contrarian views and policies:

He was also famous for giving two grades: a grade he felt his students deserved, and an inflated one he sent to the registrar, resulting in the nickname “Harvey C-minus Mansfield.”

Mansfield has also long opposed gay marriage — to fierce pushback from student organizations — but said in the interview that he is glad that gay students “no longer face the kind of dislike and shame that they used to have when I first started,” calling it “one item of progress that I’ve seen in the last 60 years.”

“But on the other hand, I do think there shouldn’t be gay marriage, I still would take that feeling that it’s a derogation of marriage to think that it’s simply a partnership of two people,” he said. …

With his departure, Mansfield said that Harvard needs “more conservatives to produce the diversity we say we want.”

“If nobody questions that general left liberalism at Harvard, and it will gradually become either more fanatic or more boring than it is,” Mansfield said.

Despite his dissident politics, however, philosophy is Mansfield’s true love. He believes it is “more important” to consider “the fundamental principles of philosophy and political philosophy than simply to be conservative politically,” he told The Crimson.

Read the full article here.

MORE: Mansfield speaks: Venerable Harvard professor laments the ruination of higher education

IMAGE: Hoover Institution

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