Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Second Take on "My Class From Hell"

I was telling a friend about my Spring 2013 semester, and the course I have referred to as "my class from hell," as well as the bureaucratic acting out that made it my semester from hell. She asked if I had such before. When I said, No, she then said, That's wonderful. I realize now that after teaching for more than forty years, I should have had more of these diabolical gifts. Hence, I am quite fortunate, and ought be grateful that such nonsense was so late in coming.

In any case, I have always realized that the various nonsense had nothing to do with me, although I am sure I provided a nice occasion for their being realized. Students and staff have their own lives, their own nonsense, and it just happens to rain on your parade. Whatever I do, they will take it as being about them, rather than generic. Whatever they do, I must take it as being about them--I just happen to be in the way of their one-car accident.

Also, I have discovered that what I called "brick wall plagiarism" is quite prevalent. Again, what I encounter is generic.

Monday, July 29, 2013


People come from all over to teach at your institution. Things being the way they are, the quality they found in their original institution is not evidenced here. They may proudly wear the gown of their doctoral institution, they may casually refer to Harvard, or Yale, or Chicago, or...

Most of us end up in dumps. We do our best to make them better, and some of us more than acquit ourselves, perhaps being bid away by a stellar institution, or we stay at our dump and make it better. Sometimes we can transform our department or our subfield to make it a real contender.

Such dumps may well allow for a strong scholarly career. I always say I get away with murder. I cannot judge my colleagues, in the detailed and titrated way others seem able to do. But I do judge the extent of their ambition in the work they choose to do. And the institution's ambition gives me freedom to follow my nose.

I am enthusiastic about the high quality people we hire and promote, while noticing that this is still rare. I am appalled by deans who justify weak candidates, and advocate tenuring those who have not proved themselves in an assured way, or their hiring ringers. But deans are effectively the proverbial used car salesmen, at least to their provost and to donors. What's nice for deans is that they are rarely around for long enough for the lemons they have sold to break down.

Of course, such is the history of Southern California: celebratory and hyperbolic. And that has made it a rich and growing place: agriculture, armed services, aerospace, entertainment/motion pictures, the Ports.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bulletproof your CV

Your CV will be read by people who are experts at detecting misrepresentation. It's important that all your claims be absolutely true.

Hence, if you have published a book, list the publisher and the co-authors, so that we are sure it is a real book. If you have published an article, do much the same.

If you have had an appointment, but no longer hold it, don't list your former title where it might be construed as your current title. (You were once chair of your department, but now are not chair, for example.)

If you did postdoctoral work, make sure it is not merely post-doctoral work (that is, a postdoc is advanced research training, while you might well have gotten another degree after your PhD but those years are not considered postdoctoral work). If you list your consultancies make sure they are distinguished from scholarly talks.


Were you the PI, the co-PI, or a recipient of some of the funds from a grant?


The problem is that one such misrepresentation devalues your whole CV. If you mention how many citations you have, someone is bound to check Web of Science (Google Scholar is not considered reliable). If many of those citations came from when you were a postdoc, and in effect worked in X's lab and X's name is on all publications, it's not clear that the citations should be attributed to you (alone).


If a book or article is "in press" it should be coming out in the next year or so. Contracted but not in-press books are best listed as manuscripts.

False Witness and Accusation

False witness and accusation is a standard theme of academic novels. Whether it be plagiarism, sexual harassment, or favoritism and bias. Often, the claims are in fact true, and then the novel has a satisfying sense of the vindication of the truth. But if they are not true, if they have been exaggerated, or the claimant has a history of not being a truthteller, it gets quite messy. And often, the claims prove less than provable.

If the claimant is known otherwise to be unreliable, it still might be the case the the current claim is true. But it is likely that the claimant will be destroyed by cross-examination, especially if there is no further evidence than he-said, she-said. Of course, the accused is unlikely to recover from the false claim, except in terms of a liability suit on the university.

One might think that issues of plagiarism are much easier than sexual harassment and favoritism, but it would seem they may not be if the plagiarism is what I call "brick wall" plagiarism--taking phrases from the source, giving reference, but no quotation marks.

Essentially what happens is that the administrative procedure becomes subject to the legal realm, often by means of a future implied lawsuit by the accused. Settlements leave reputations ruined. Universities have the resources to extend legal proceedings until the accused's resources run out.

Hence, institutions have to investigate the reliability of claimants, even before they share the accusations with the accused. Their future liability may well be much greater than if they did not. This is not nice, and it would seem to make the "victim" subject to accusation. It might discourage reports of harassment or plagiarism or bias. To take accusations seriously, the institution not only must listen to the accuser, but also be sure that what it hears is worth relying on.

Essentially, we are in a litigious world, people have financial and bureaucratic incentives to make accusations, and the institution has an obligation of defending those who are actually victimized. So, the institution needs a devil's advocate who points out weaknesses in accusations. It's not a matter of not believing in such accusations but of making sure those claims will hold up to scrutiny, and so saving the accuser the shame of being found not a truth-teller. You don't want to discover that the accuser is known in the following way by a reliable colleague who has no interest in the allegations but has some experience with the accuser:

Apparently, the person has made some testimony connected to a job action related to some other person. This  person is not likely to be a truth-teller. Personally, I would *not* trust this person to be telling the truth, particularly if it involved an accusation against another person. I would absolutely not accept a serious accusation made by this person without credible external verification.

Again, we do not want to discourage the reporting of sexual harassment. At the same time, the process will not possess legitimacy unless effort is made to check the reliability of the claimant--AND keep in mind that unreliable claimants can have genuine claims not to be dismissed out of hand  by the reputation for unreliability. If you want the process to have the support of the academic community, the process must encourage reporting of concerns and at the same time be seen as careful in making its allegations. (None of this dismisses concerns about sexual harassment etc. Rather, you need to be seen as protecting the accused against false allegations if you are to have the support of the largee community.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Writing Effectively, Getting Done

Organize what you write so that if I read the first paragraph of each paper, the first paragraph of each section, and the first paragraph of each subsection, I get the gist of what you are saying. This means that these paragraphs are likely written after you have written the paper, section, or subsection. And that you have organized the work into chapters, sections, subsections.

Make you main point (your contribution to scholarship or practice) clear in those first paragraphs, and make sure that what is most important in the paper or the chapter, or the thesis/dissertation, is up front. Don't hold back.

Last point, be sure you refer to sources carefully, use quotation marks around direct quotes, and spellcheck. And get the work in before the deadline. Plagiarism or Late won't work.

Don't worry too much about your personal issues about writing, learning styles, etc. If you do the above, and you work every day on your projects, you will get done and it will at least be readable. There's lots written about writing, and it may be of help to you.  No end of workshops etc. Even my new book has lots. But the above in bold is the main point.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

11 1/2 Month Masters Degrees

I am not at all sure about the business plan, but it may make sense to make two year masters degrees into almost one full year, in effect three intense semesters. For the student, the major cost of graduate education is the foregone income (total tuition is likely to be less or roughly equal), so faster is better if there are good jobs at the end of the program and they are a step up from before ($, prestige, kind of work). For the institution, I am not sure about the flow of income, but this is easy to assess.

Some students want to continue to work, and we might offer part-time programs. They are willing to delay the "step-up", or perhaps their being in school is enough to make a step-up possible?

Some programs may depend on a slower learning process. And those would not benefit. And some fields could not take so intense a program since the work required would overwhelm most students--although good curriculum design should make this less of a problem.

Doctoral programs might also be speeded up, but here the problem is that actual dissertation research cannot be so speeded up.

And of course undergraduate degrees, with no advanced placement, could readily fit into three years.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Pearl Harbor" by R. Wohlstetter: Entrepreneurship, Universities, Signals/Noise, Unimaginable/Improbable?

It would seem that the Japanese, in playing out the detailed strategy that led to Pearl Harbor, were prudent and ambitious. They did not conceive of continuing to be "a tenth-rate power" , so not attacking was a matter of honor and national destiny. They could imagine a fairly quick defeat of US/Britain/The Dutch, but beyond a year or so of battle their imagination failed them. They knew that in a long war they were likely to be defeated, but to have that be crucial in their decisionmaking and planning (perhaps to have made it part of their considerations) would be to accept defeat and be dishonored. They could not imagine the US... not withdrawing, and accepting Japan's enlargement of its sphere of power, for if they did their plan of attack would make no sense.

So, imagine you are a university with great ambitions. You look around and you realize that your competition is formidable, able to counter your moves. But over a "short" period of say 5-10 years you can imagine how you might act to enlarge your sphere of excellence. To admit that your moves might blunted by other institutions would  be to admit the limits of what you might do. So your plan is quite detailed in the next few years, but becomes a patriotic fantasy beyond that. You aggressively recruit new faculty, raid other institutions, run successful fund-raising programs (even though your endowment/student is perhaps 1/10th of your competitors). You have a business plan that allows you to do all this, retain your reputation among the convinced, yet in fact there are weaknesses you might be aware of but indicate that they are not crucial (at least now).  That is, you figure that the short run campaign is where you will triumph, and know that if it is a very long campaign, all bets are off. You imagine that the competition will allow you to get away with striking moves, accepting your new power and their decreased power.

Likely, you find ways of measuring your success that provide the kind of technical reassurance you need. In areas like athletics, where measurement is not at all subtle, you must be preeminent, in effect giving you assurance that your other measures are reliable.

Since most deans and provosts are in positions for less than 10 years, they leave the long run to their successors. Presidents rely on a supportive board and boosters and committed alumni to allow them to "see" over the horizon--for vision is what this is called. The deans and provosts are on on the battle-field, and do not tell the president just how things are going, and the president and supporters do not admit doubts. All cannot have any doubts about the short term, and all do not dwell on the longer term. Never can they acknowledge their weaknesses. We're always number one, somehow.

Yet, some institutions really do transform themselves. As far as I can tell, they find a niche where in fact they do have advantages, and that niche allows them to become more dominant, and that partial-dominance allows other parts of the institution to grow. It helps to be in an especially rich region or field, it helps to take big risks, it helps to have superb taste. We might want to study such triumphs--Stanford, University of California system, Stony Brook, MIT in economics, NYU in part.

Here is another cut on this, posted on my This Week's Finds Blog

Originally published in the early 60s, Roberta Wohlstetter's PEARL HARBOR accounts for the surprise of PH by the noise that overwhelms the signals. Retrospectively, all is clear. Prospectively or in actual time, all those breadcrumbs are mixed in with crumbs from seven other bakeries and a thousand passersby.
The best you can do is to take warnings seriously, AND set up picket fences to slow down opponents. You won't stop them completely, but you can make it harder for them at modest cost to yourself. Hence even an inadequate deployment of cruisers around Oahu would have made the Japanese think twice.
Just because something is unimaginable does not mean that it is improbable, is the message in Schelling's forward.
My take is about entrepreneurship: You have an idea, and figure that you must succeed in something like two years. You feel that if you don't pursue it, you have lost your mojo. You also know that your competitors will doom you if you don't succeed in those two years, for they might well catch up. You will make your major announcement now, for you are ready--and you tell yourself that the competitors might cede some of the market to you. But that is just telling yourself. But that uncertain longer term is not going to stop you from trying. In other words, you don't think in terms of real options.
(Japan is the entrepreneur; the competition is US, UK, the Dutch; the idea is the Greater Asian Prosperity Sphere; the announcement is PH (albeit you have made earlier announcements, as in Manchuria, but no real competition is present then); mojo is Japanese honor and also the anti-mojo is Japan becoming a tenth-rate power, unable to follow the West's imperialist model (the UK is also a small island state); catching up is awakening the US's industrial military might; you are ready since you have extended the range of your bombers to 450 miles but really need 500 miles and hope the pilots are careful with their fuel, the torpedos have been adapted to PH's low-depth; and no one really thinks through what might follow if success does not happen in the first year, for to do so is to violate a taboo and to be dishonorable.)
As for the picket fences in actual entrepreneurship, they may be patents, design elements, pricing, proprietary features, even disinformation.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Going to Court: The Fragile Legitimacy of Bureaucracies and Due Process Institutions

Recently a recently resigned senior faculty member of USC was put in the FBI Most Wanted List, albeit at #500. He was apprehended, since in fact he was not in hiding. Whatever the issue is, one might suspect it influenced his resignation.

But imagine faculty (or senators or representatives) refusing to resign. Political pressure is now being put on the Mayor of San Diego (and former Congressman), who has offered an apology in a YouTube like video. One can begin impeachment and voting procedures, presumably under administrative rules that are deemed fair (at least by someone). Almost always, institutions have not followed their own regulations scrupulously, and often they have be quite varied in their response to similar offenses, the seemingly preferred being slapped, the less preferred being ejected.

In part this is a game of chicken, in part this is a game of hardball. But whatever the offenses and procedures, inevitably, it would seem, the institution turns out to look quite bad, unfair, perhaps vicious, and discriminatory.  In part the problem lies in the mixture of legal procedure with managerial discretion, resulting in what appears to be rotten legality and discriminatory discretion. I am not suggesting the accused person is saintly, but no one expects saintly behavior. But fairness and nondiscrimination is expected of the institution if it is to be legitimate and authoritative.

One must keep in mind that professors are likely to be fluent writers, so if they feel they have been unfairly treated, a book might well emerge. No one on the administration side is likely to write a counter-book. And as usual in legal discovery, emails and documents within the accusers' camp, presumably administrators as well as the harmed, are likely to create a minor or major brouhaha.

Settlements have been the preferred mode of moving forward. But if the accused proceeds to the courts (judicial and public opinion),  the institution rarely comes out well, even if the accused is eventually proven "guilty." Collateral damage, besides on the administrators, are other persons who may have benefited from being positively preferred and discriminated, for now their position is seen as illegitimate. They might still enjoy their position, but it is tainted. They might just go to the bank smiling, but it seems they cannot resist trying to redeem themselves by attacking

A few years ago Justice Clarence Thomas's wife publicly asked Professor Anita Hill to admit that she was not truthful in her testimony. I did not hear what happened subsequently, but all Professor Hill needed do is to be quiet. The evidence offered by others supports Hill and the stains on Thomas's character. I was surprised that Mrs. Thomas went public with such a request, just when the past might have faded. If you find yourself in such a situation as did Justice Thomas, the best you can do is show that you are worthy of the position you have achieved, and never try to prove that the allegations were false.  (Thomas's supporters in the Senate went on with no problems, since whatever Thomas's opponents might have thought, they needed to work with their colleagues. On the other hand, Bork (and it would appear Thomas) could never get over his rejection.)

Social Capital?: Nazism, Bismarck's Unintended Monster and Bowling for Fascism. Or, The Soprano Effect.

This kind of article is not so much about the triumph of economics' (and other social sciences in its wake) ways of thinking, as about the strong push to explanation, working carefully and critically with data sets, and in effect an light-theory endeavor. In other words, economics-type training has externalities, much as does physics training.

Studying politics might get you a doctorate in Germany, and you go into politics, but then your thesis is discovered to be plagiarized. But studying physics and physical chemistry, you go into politics, and you are Angela Merkel.

Nazism depended on the solidarity of the German people (vs. the principalities)--Bismarck's legacy (the Prussian triumph, although he would have been horrified  by what happened).

Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919-33

Shanker Satyanath 

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Nico Voigtländer 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Hans-Joachim Voth 

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional (CREI); Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

June 25, 2013

Social capital – a dense network of associations facilitating cooperation within a community – typically leads to positive political and economic outcomes, as demonstrated by a large literature following Putnam. A growing literature emphasizes the potentially “dark side” of social capital. This paper examines the role of social capital in the downfall of democracy in interwar Germany by analyzing Nazi party entry rates in a cross-section of towns and cities. Before the Nazi Party’s triumphs at the ballot box, it built an extensive organizational structure, becoming a mass movement with nearly a million members by early 1933. We show that dense networks of civic associations such as bowling clubs, animal breeder associations, or choirs facilitated the rise of the Nazi Party. The effects are large: Towns with one standard deviation higher association density saw at least one-third faster growth in the strength of the Nazi Party. IV results based on 19th century measures of social capital reinforce our conclusions. In addition, all types of associations – veteran associations and non-military clubs, “bridging” and “bonding” associations – positively predict NS party entry. These results suggest that social capital in Weimar Germany aided the rise of the Nazi movement that ultimately destroyed Germany’s first democracy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: social capital, democracy, political economy, Weimar Germany, Nazi Party

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Wealth of Universities

Over time, universities become stronger and sometimes weaker, often department by department, sometimes  more generally. Hence one might try to understand why MIT's Economics department became so strong, rising from undistinguished to #1 for a long time

This problem might be analogized to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776), and the subsequent literature in economics. My colleague Peter Gordon led me to an article in the Journal of Economic Literature by Spolaore and Wacziarg (vol 51, 2013, p. 325ff) on explanations for differential economic development among nations and peoples. It's a remarkable survey--long term forces and persistence: biogeography and Neolithic conditions matter; long term persistence is at the levels of populations rather than locations; and, long term genealogical links across populations. Not nature vs. nurture, not genes vs. culture--it's epigenetic, it's the interaction.

Economics has two main accountings--prices and growth, and the problems of growth (and decline) are surely the most difficult. At the same time, all the explanations so far offered explain about half the variation. What Hirschman called the bias for hope, namely that even if you could prove that nothing is possible, in fact good things do happen, some people and groups find their way around the conventional historical limitations and current barriers. And so we want to know more about what they did, the lessons, and how replicable are those strategies.

Imagine trying to account for the wealth of universities, where by wealth I am thinking of the quality of their faculties and their research more than their actual endowments etc. Surely there are big exogenous effects, such as the land grant universities, the rise of the research university, the impact of federal (US) expenditures fostering research and education (fellowships) in the years since WWII, and especially from the 50s through the 70s, and the strong growth of the economies of the western part of the US (California in particular, after WWII) and the subsequent defunding of state universities (Michigan, Ann Arbor, being the prime case post-automobile industry declines). And there were internal effects of discrimination against particular ethnic groups and women, where some universities and fields were able to make enormous strides by opening up, while others took longer and suffered.

If you were a private university, if you did not become a serious research university, if you missed the boat in those 30+ years after WWII, if you were located in poorer parts of the country, and if you affirmatively acted for "white males", you were likely to suffer. Harvard had its "happy bottom quarter" of undergraduates until the later twentieth century.

But there is the story of Stanford and UCLA, and particular departments, such as economics at MIT, where leadership and chance were able to make a big difference. What are the lessons for universities and departments?

1. History and location matter, but often not how people imagine. It helps to have a big endowment and be located in a good place.  But it's not about universities but about peoples. Hence if you can import the right peoples you can plug into stronger traditions and make a big difference. The barriers are prejudice and allegiance to legacies.
2. Among populations, some have big advantages. Hence in The Chosen Few the fact that some post-Second Temple Jewish populations educated their sons to be literate (to read and understand the Torah) even though they were agriculturalists (and so there was no economic return from doing so, in fact a penalty) meant that centuries later those Jewish people had the advantages needed for a world economy that developed post-1500 or so. (Not that they got rich, but their skills gave them important roles in that economy--literacy and numeracy.) In the last forty years, the entrance of blacks and people of color, gay people, and women into the humanities has revitalized those fields and saved them from dying out.

In so far as you did not hire these populations you suffered gravely.  Berkeley did not try to hire Feynman after WWII since they already had one Jew in their physics department, and Harvard economics missed Samuelson because his "numeracy" was not their type. Many women were adjuncts or research faculty, in part due to nepotism rules, and were only made regular faculty when it was almost too late. African-American history was wide open for exploration for a century, and even after John Hope Franklin published his textbook, it was necessary for there to be many African American historians for the subject to be explored fruitfully.

Probably what has held back most institutions is their unwillingness to admit that past policies, now embodied in their tenured faculty, were less than optimal, and to write down these sunk assets and move forward. Faculties tend to reproduce their own, that writedown being an attack on themselves. Solidarity rather than competition.

More to come....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bureaucratic University

Almost all universities and even some colleges are traditional bureaucracies. As such:

1. Rules and regulations ensure fairness, in so far as that is a criterion.
2. There is likely to be at least some appointments that are big mistakes, whether because information was lacking, or because someone turns out not to be productive, or because some boss decided that they wanted X and pushed the appointment through. (Most such bosses are insufficiently careful in their pushing, and were the details of the appointment to come to light it would not look good. Typically there is a false search, and sometimes no candidates other than the planned one are invited. Some bosses are scrupulous and there are no fingerprints, but usually pride goeth before the fall.)  In the latter cases, since the bosses have temporary appointments of 3-10 years (chair, dean), there seem to be no clawbacks, and the persons who suffer are the colleagues in the unit and of course the students.
3. The trick here is to sideline X, to find a role for X where they might well be useful or at least do less harm. Even better is to find another institution that needs just what X really offers, and see if you can recommend X for the position.
4. If you find yourself in in the grips of X, it's best  to never respond to them, but be obsequiously pleasant if you meet them. No need to talk about them behind their backs. They always bury themselves.

The alternative to a bureaucracy is a patronage system: you are Mr. Big's "boy" or "girl," and Mr. Big builds an empire around himself.

Dementors,Tormentors, Degrading, Groaning Pains, and other Terms of Art in Professoring

I am accumulating terms that accurately describe academic experience:

Tormentors are mentors who are destructive under the guise of helping you. (Think also of "dementors" from Harry Potter, with their kiss that steals your soul.) In effect, tormentors are "internalizing the aggressor," saying it (torturing) was good enough for me, so it is good enough for you. Pronounced tor'mentors

Degrading is when you discover, after you have submitted the grades, that students have plagiarized, and you wonder whether you want to give them a failing grade and go through the university procedures. and are forced to do so by the university rules. Pronounced dee'grading

Groaning Pains are what students give you when they are trying to figure out how to get an A by giving you the third-degree on your implicit rubric.

... more to be added

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Mail Can Wait. No Inquisitions.

1. When we depended on the Postal Service and the telephone, we knew that letters did not demand replies in the next few days, perhaps unless they were sent Special Delivery. More urgent communications depended on the telephone and telegraph.

With email, we might feel the need to reply promptly--in part to clear your Inbox! But also, because that has become the expectation. But, in general, you might do well to wait until you have time, except for confirmation of meeting times. Assume the message is just another Postal Service letter. If you have the discipline (I do not), look at your email once each day, much as you might your mailbox.

Moreover, much mail that would seem to demand a detailed response is best left unanswered. Long complex complaints might well be dealt with in person. Whatever you write will engender another demanding reply. Even if the letter accuses you of heinous crimes, and has been cc'd to your boss or colleagues or..., let it go, maybe with a brief response to the boss. ["I am not sure what Joe is talking about." is likely to be enough, since the boss has real problems to deal with.] Of course, if there is any substance to the accusation see an attorney, and surely do not respond at all.

Much the same for accusatory emails from colleagues, significant others, etc. Let it go. I have inadvertently deleted my Inbox and my Deleted Mail, so I even have an excuse. A telephone call or a meeting may be in order, but email escalates too rapidly.

2. Of course, a meeting or a telephone call can become an Inquisition. If that is what is going on, just drop the call--it happens all the time in any case. If they call back, you have already gone to the restroom. As for a meeting, in the middle of an in-person Inquisition you can always plead a medical appointment, or if you are so inclined, projectile vomiting with collateral damage on your accuser is quite powerful.

3. Always be sympathetic, always be polite, always say they can send the message again, always suggest you reschedule, and call them back in two weeks to see if there is something they had in mind not said already. And always keep a copy of the emails from the complainers.

Of course, if you are involved in a conspiracy, as in much of Wall Street, no email, no phone calls. In person, and ideally checking for the presence of recording devices. And if you are copying, with the potential for plagiarism, check it out on Google or Turnitin to be sure the your copied passages are not recognized there--perhaps someone else has copied them too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Why Samuelson moved from Harvard to MIT...

From a draft article by Backhouse on why Harvard let go of Samuelson
"In subsequent recollections, Samuelson credited Harold [Freeman, MIT Assoc Professor, and former fellow student with Samuelson] with responsibility for his move. Harold persuaded the Department Head, Ralph Freeman that not only was Samuelson a good scholar, but he would work with others. Later I learned from Ralph, who became a dear friend, how Harold operated. Rhodes Scholar Ralph said, “I know Paul is a good scholar, but is he a cooperator?” Never at a loss, Harold replies, “Is Samuelson a cooperator? Why the man writes joint articles.”

"The basis for this claim was the article Samuelson had written with his fellow-student Russ Nixon. Samuelson also said that it was Harold who talked him into taking the job."

Backhouse argues there were lots of reasons other than antisemitism for Harvard not retaining Samuelson. In essence, Samuelson was too mathematical, too limited (not agricultural econ, or labor econ,...)--but I also believe that his mathematical work would have been rejected by advocates of Deutsche Mathematik (not enough intuition, too rigorous and abstract). But of course it is just what they called Deutsche Mathematik that represented the old way of doing things, the ongoing revolution in mathematics by many Germans and especially eventually the French--for example, Andre Weil, founder of Bourbaki, not at all Deutsche Mathematik.

Backhouse is from a conference about how the MIT economics department became so good. Here’s something from that conference on Jews in economics by Roy Weintraub.

His point is that MIT was not about Kultur and Bildung, while most of the universities still had that in mind in terms of Western Civilization.
Columbia introduced its great books courses (around 1925) when it realized that its students included many "Jews" (including comparatively recent immigrants who were surely not Jewish) who were not part of the elites who had been inculcated with that Western Civ tradition--that Western Civ tradition being rather more denying of the influence of Judaism on what they thought of as Christianity (historically, a Judaic sect).

[Columbia and most of the Ivies eventually had quotas for (immigrant) Jews (too many were being admitted by grades etc.), not really ending until well after WWII. (My class of '64 was known as Dudley's Folly since it was much based on scores and grades, and so had too many men of the wrong sort. Dudley was let go as admissions officer. See below on Dudley's Folly.] See Karabel's book.  These universities wanted to have "real men," not these nerdy intellectual types. Harvard had a "happy bottom quarter," of men who who would not excel at SAT-like scores or grades, but who would contribute to the atmosphere of the place.]
From Jews of Brooklyn, an interview with writer Phil Lopate on Dudley's Folly (Sorry for the cut-in-two of the page)