Harvard Faculty Donate to Democrats by Wide Margin

Karl Aspelund and Meg Bernhard, Harvard Crimson, May 1, 2015

Eighty-four percent of campaign contributions made by a group of 614 Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees, according to a Crimson analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

During the three years, the Harvard affiliates represented in analyzed public filings gave nearly $3 million to federal campaigns and candidates. Each of Harvard’s schools leaned to the left in the contributions made by their affiliates, many by wide margins. Ninety-six percent of donations in the data set from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Harvard College, supported Democratic efforts. That figure was even higher–nearly 98 percent–at Harvard Law School. Harvard Business School was the most Republican, with 37 percent of its contributions supporting Republicans and 62 percent going to Democrats.

For this story, The Crimson analyzed the federal donations of contributors who reported Harvard University as their employer and were listed in Harvard directories and websites as professors, lecturers, fellows, associates, researchers, and scientists, as well as visiting fellows and professors. The data set does not include people who only work as administrators.


The data supports the commonly held belief that Harvard’s professoriate is largely liberal, raising questions about the ideological diversity of the faculty and what impact that may have on teaching and research.

Blue Ivy

Harvard’s flagship faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, manages instruction at the undergraduate College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. FAS is also one of Harvard’s most left-leaning faculties or schools, according to the data set. From 2011 through October of 2014, the 183 FAS affiliates included in the Crimson analysis contributed $486,452 to federal campaigns and candidates, representing 17 percent of the University’s total.


The top 10 donors in the data set within FAS together donated $217,708, or 45 percent of all contributions by faculty with primary appointments at the school. The largest FAS donors in the data set include Chemistry professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Martin Karplus ’51, University professor and former University President Lawrence H. Summers, and Psychology professor Steven Pinker.


The Business School’s 75 donors in the data set were the most generous. Seventy-five individuals in the data set with primary Business School appointments gave $913,015 collectively, accounting for 31 percent of contributions from faculty, instructors, and researchers across all schools.

The Business School was also the kindest to Republicans, with surveyed affiliates giving $334,850 to GOP  candidates and campaigns. That figure was 83 percent of all University contributions to GOP campaigns, but it still was not a majority at the Business School, where surveyed faculty, researchers, and instructors sent 62 percent of their contributions to Democrats.

Among its Harvard colleagues in the analysis, the Business School was an outlier. Faculty from the Law School in the data set gave the second-largest amount of money to political campaigns and committees at $692,792. Almost all–98 percent–of these contributions went to Democratic campaigns.


The University’s top donor in the data set was Business School professor Arthur I. Segel, whose $165,175 in donations went overwhelmingly to Democratic campaigns and organizations.


University President Drew G. Faust is not listed as a donor in the data set.


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