Thursday, May 01, 2008

Harvard has heft on Oregon ballot

This morning I went through the voters’ pamphlet and tallied who won.

How’s that? The votes aren’t counted until May 20.

The count I did was of colleges and universities. Which of the four-year undergraduate and graduate programs produced the most candidates?

If my count is correct (than this can be an eye-glazing exercise), the winner is (drum-roll….)

Portland State with 20 followed closely by the University of Oregon with 19.

No real surprise there.

But what happened to Oregon State with a measly 2? (OSU graduates may know something the rest of us don’t — like politics is a waste of time?)

Even Purdue in Indiana produced three candidates, including Will Hobbs, my Democratic choice (and The Oregonian’s and Willamette Week’s) to replace lack-luster incumbent U.S. Rep. David Wu (Stanford, BA; Yale, JD).

I got into this college-counting exercise because as I read the candidates’ statements, Harvard kept popping up with surprising frequency. Fourteen times to be exact, (one being for Barack Obama). In fact, Harvard ranked third, after PSU and UO, as an alma mater in the Portland-area edition of the pamphlet.

Rival Yale wasn’t even close with three (among them Hillary Rodham Clinton).

Stanford came in with a mere four.

Oxford University, of all places, had three (one more than OSU). Oxford’s graduates in the pamphlet are Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, and two state reps. Steve Griffith (R) and Ben Cannon (D). Liberty got a law degree from Harvard, and Griffith earned a bachelor’s from Harvard and a law degree from Stanford.

Oxford’s rival, Cambridge, produced Amanda Fritz, a Portland City Council candidate, a fellow SW Portlander and an avid blogger.

Not to make too much of this, but a couple of observations come to mind.

Many of the University of Oregon and Harvard candidates went to law school on the campuses. If you want your graduates to become politically influential, be sure to have a law school.

The other point is that political candidates are, by definition, aspiring, if not always inspiring. If Harvard and PSU have one thing in common, it’s that they attract aspirants — but in different ways. Harvard gets youth who are obviously aiming high from the start. PSU often attracts those who kick into high gear later in life.

By the way, I didn’t tally community college graduates, but I probably should have. From my PCC teaching experience, I know community colleges attract scrappy older students. My recollection is that community college grads are well represented in the pamphlet.

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Blogger becca said...

I am glad you mentioned Will Hobbs. I am also voting or him. I found out he was running through my father in Ohio who went to Purdue with Hobbs. They are both members of an ironic motorcycle club formed in West Lafayette, Indiana in the 60's called Hell's Tunas.

10:55 AM  

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