"General Admission"

From The Economist (subscription required), 23 February 2007

Controversy is brewing at Harvard Business School over one of its alumni.Gabriel Ashkenazi graduated from HBS's eight-week-long Advanced Management Programme in 2004. Recently appointed head of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), General Ashkenazi has been accused by some on campus of overseeing human rights abuses during Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon. The general, who is portrayed as a moderate in Israel's press, has not been charged with wrongdoing in Israel or abroad. But that hasn't stopped activists from questioning HBR's admissions standards (the alleged abuses ccurred before Mr Ashkenazi came to Harvard).

The disagreement raises interesting questions over how schools make their admissions decisions. Sandy Kreisberg, an admissions consultant who follows HBS closely, thinks schools should avoid giving politically-motivated groups any sway over their decisions. "It would mean second-guessing military admits from scores of countries, including America," said Mr Reisberg.

Harvard's Ivy League rival, Yale University, provides a cautionary tale. The school faced an uproar last year when it was revealed that a former Taliban spokesman, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, had been admitted to a non-degree programme. Conservatives in the Wall Street Journal and on cable news shows hauled Yale over the coals, and one alumnus launched a campaign to cut off donations to the school. In July 2006 Mr Rahmatullah's application to one of Yale's degree-granting programmes was ejected.