For the past eight months or so, I’ve been writing a column based on the premise that Harvard is effectively “For Sale,” arguing, week after week, that our numerous controversial financial ties are improper of our institution. I’ve tried to claim the self-aggrandizing high ground on everything ranging from the opioid epidemic to tyrannical regimes — quite the unrealistic effort for an exiled freshman Spaniard.
But what if the crux of my column turned out to be, simply put, incorrect? What if tainted donations were, like Harvard insists, merely the means to a noble end?
I’ve never considered myself a huge fan of Michael R. Bloomberg — quite an unenviable position for someone trying to enter a dying media market. His political career always struck me as less than ideal, his troubling past statements as, well, extremely troubling. He’s hardly the kind of person I’d envision as the ideal Harvard donor, let alone the main funder of an entire, extremely influential University program.
Dr. Ambreen Zaman Riaz was impressed by the restaurant. “It was a sushi place,” she says, “and it was really good by the way, really good sushi.” But it was the company, not the food, that surprised her. The restaurant wasn’t segregated by sex or gender — a true rarity in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom was modernizing before her own eyes.
At first glance, Leon D. Black seems like the ideal university donor, a poster boy for billionaire philanthropy. In 1990, he co-founded Apollo Global Management, a now colossal private equity firm. Black’s subsequent fortune allowed him to become a productive, charitable member of elite society, a patron of the arts both as Museum of Modern Art chairman and as a private collector best known for purchasing one of the four original versions of “The Scream” for just under $120 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
Zeynep opens up rather easily — in fact, she rushes through our interview offering mostly unprompted answers, taking only small breaks to relight her dying cigarette. She strikes me as casual in a distinctly Gen-Z way, using expletives out of frustration, and switching swiftly to dry, cynical humor. But for the occasional pause to check the English translation of a Turkish word, she would fit right into our campus.