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Jamshed Bharucha Is Back

Jamshed Bharucha.jpg

The following memo from Psychology and Brain Sciences department chair Dave Bucci went out last month announcing the return to Hanover of one of the department’s stars:

Dear PBS Colleagues,

As you may have already heard, Jamshed Bharucha is making a return to Dartmouth as a Research Professor and Distinguished Fellow in PBS. Jamshed was a member of the PBS faculty a number of years ago, and went on to serve as Dean of Faculty before heading to Tufts and later Cooper Union. He will be in residence for at least the next 2 years and will have an office on the 4th floor of Moore. He may also be teaching a course or two during his time here, including at the grad level. Please welcome him back when you see him.


The succinct note does not do Bharucha justice: he left Dartmouth in 2002 (he had been the Dean of the Faculty for only a year) to become the Provost at Tufts (the multi-talented Bharucha had appointments with the Tufts departments of music, psychology and neuroscience); nine years later he was named the President of Cooper Union. His four-year term there was a difficult one as he was forced by financial turbulence to begin charging tuition at a school that had prided itself throughout its history on being free to its students (save for its earliest days, when students from wealthier families were called upon to subsidize their less well off fellows).

What to make of Bharucha’s return to the College? He has kept his Upper Valley house throughout his academic wanderings, so his affection for the area and for Dartmouth is sincere. But does he have more in mind? In listening to him speak, in looking at his background and achievements, one can’t help but conclude that the guy is the real deal: form and substance together. Hold him up against lesser leaders (any guess who?) and they pale into insignificance. This space will watch what kind of public role Bharucha chooses to play in the coming months.

Addendum: In this TEDx talk, Bharucha speaks thoughtfully about learning and memory (and he plays the violin, too):

Addendum: Bharucha founded and runs a company named University Analytics that casts a data-driven eye on the management of academic institutions. I wonder how he would compare Dartmouth and Brown.

Addendum: Bharucha departed from Dartmouth along with a group of accomplished scholar-administrators — including Susan Prager (2001), Lee Bollinger (1996) and Mike Gazzaniga (2004) — who all found it impossible to work with plodding, manipulative President Jim Wright.

Addendum: A reader writes in with an interesting point that may concern Bharucha:

It may be worth noting as well that his undergraduate alma mater, Vassar, is searching for a new president.

Vassar’s outgoing President, Catharine Hill, precipitously announced the exact date of her departure (almost immediate) on July 20, 2016, though her resignation had been known about for several months. The decision to have Bharucha come back to Dartmouth pre-dated July 20 by several weeks at least.

That said, how can you keep Jamshed down in Hanover once he’s seen Poughkeepsie.

Addendum: Professor of Music Jon Appleton writes in:

I became a close friend of Jamshed Bharucha from the first year he joined the Dartmouth faculty. He is a gifted teacher, an extraordinary scholar and a careful administrator. We saw each other frequently — and still do — when he was Provost at Tufts, a Visiting Professor at Stanford and President of The Cooper Union. He was the first scientist to start to uncover the secrets of how the brain processes music. He is also a fine violinist, and I enjoyed playing duets with him. How rare to find someone at ease in the arts and sciences.

Dartmouth would not have suffered the decline that occurred under Wright and Folt had he been our president. He was a finalist for the presidency when Kim was appointed. Bharucha would have brought back academic excellence, instead of the political correctness that we experience today. I guess academic qualifications no longer matter much in the presidential selection process.

Addendum: Carol Wolf, a member of the Cooper Union School of Art, Class of 1984, writes in to contest the above assertion that “students from wealthier families were called upon to subsidize their less well off fellows”:

Dear Mr. Asch,

Your August 8, 2016 article, “Jamshed Bharucha is Back,” contains an inaccurate statement:

“His four-year term there was a difficult one as he was forced by financial turbulence to begin charging tuition at a school that had prided itself throughout its history on being free to its students (save for its earliest days, when students from wealthier families were called upon to subsidize their less well off fellows).”

The above statement is factually incorrect, and is part of the false narrative promoted by Mr. Bharucha while he was Cooper Union’s president to misrepresent Peter Cooper’s vision and intent in founding the institution.

The fact is that, prior to the charging of tuition in 2014, there was only one anomalous exception to 155 years of free education—a small “amateur art class” that existed between 1860 and 1885 for which wealthy women paid a small fee. These were NOT undergraduates, they did not participate in the core curriculum of regular courses that were free to all, and they did not receive college credits, degrees, or graduate. In fact, the Trustees at the time only reluctantly agreed to allow that art class as “a departure from the invariable rule in the other department of the Union, that the instruction shall in all cases be entirely gratuitous,” as stated in their First Annual Report, 1860. This allowed for utilization of the building space during the day, when classes (which were originally held at night to accommodate working people) were not in session.

The actual fact is that NO undergraduate of Cooper Union had ever paid tuition prior to 2014, and this goes back to the institution’s founding in 1859. At a time when the school’s financial situation was (and is) dire, Bharucha’s administration chose to spend over a million dollars on public relations consultants to disseminate misinformation like the above to misrepresent the intentions of Peter Cooper (which were to provide free education to all who attend his school) in an effort to sway public opinion and falsely justify the plans to impose tuition.

This misinformation has been corrected officially in past articles by the New York Times and by The Associated Press. Furthermore, this claim has been challenged in New York’s Supreme Court, and no defense was made to support Mr. Barucha’s narrative. I respectfully request that you correct your article to reflect the facts.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information or clarification. Thank you for your consideration.

Kind regards,

Carol Wolf
Cooper Union School of Art, Class of 1984
Council Member, Cooper Union Alumni Association
Chair, CUAA Annual Fund Committee


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