96 percent of Ivy League professors' donations went to Obama

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Ivy League educators overwhelmingly supported President Obama with their campaign donations in the presidential election, reinforcing the suspicions of critics who say their bias also shows up in the classroom.

Some 96 percent of faculty and staffers at the eight universities who donated wrote their checks to Obama, and at Brown University, just one professor contributed to Mitt Romney's bid, according to a study by student political advocacy group Campus Reform. In all, the employees of the prestigious schools sent more than $1.2 million to President Obama and just $114,166 for Romney’s campaign -- a ratio of more than 10-to-1.

“These numbers represent more evidence that grand claims of diversity and tolerance on the American campus ring hollow," said Josiah Ryan, a spokesman for Campus Reform. "It is impossible to believe that professors did not protect their financial investment in President Obama through campaigning in the classroom.”


The group compiled the data from publicly available numbers from the Federal Election Commission. A breakdown of the numbers show:

  • Brown University in Rhode Island had 129 faculty members donating a total of $67,728 to Obama, while just one staffer wrote a check -- for $500 -- to Romney.
  • New York City’s Columbia University had more than 650 staff members contribute $350,000 to the president’s campaign while only 21 donated a total of $34,250 to Romney.
  • Harvard had the highest amount of donors among its faculty, with 585 giving money to both campaigns. Of those, 555 people donated nearly $400,000 to Obama's reelection bid.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars and a former provost at King's College in New York, said the bias shown by the Ivy Leaguers' choices is "astonishing in magnitude," and said the idea that such groupthink escapes the classroom defies reason.

"Some researchers in recent years have attempted to depict college faculty as more moderate than liberal and have claimed that about 20 percent are 'conservative,'" Wood said. "These figures show how misleading those claims are.

"American higher education is far to the left of the country in political outlook, and in partisan contexts such as campaign donations, it acts out its one-sided perspective," he continued. "Anyone who thinks this partisanship is sealed off from the classroom is engaged in wishful thinking."

Campus Reform compiled the FEC numbers through open records website OpenSecrets.org. Messages left with the Ivy Faculty Consortium, which represents professors from the schools for speaking engagements and media appearances, were not immediately returned.

Both Obama and Romney have Ivy League roots of their own. President Obama attended Columbia University as an undergraduate and Harvard Law, while Romney earned both a law degree and an MBA from Harvard.