President Sheldon Hackney and two other University administrators, along with 220 fellow college administrators nationwide, endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Clinton Monday. In what Clinton spokesperson Jim Whitney called "a rare move," the administrators endorsed the candidate in an "open letter" printed in today's Chronicle of Higher Education as a paid advertisement by the Clinton campaign. Saying this "is the first time I've ever" endorsed a candidate, Hackney said last night "I think the country is in need of a new direction and new leadership and I think that [Clinton's] notions about where we ought to be going are correct." "The economy is weak and the cities are full of drugs and violence and society is divided into . . . into different groups that don't see a common purpose," Hackney said. "I think Bill Clinton sees a common purpose for society and sees how we might get the economy growing again." Hackney stressed that his endorsement was a personal statement and not a statement about the stance of the University. And he defended Clinton's record as Governor of Arkansas, saying "the rate of improvement [in education] there has been dramatic." The supporters, who also included Assistant Vice President David Morse and Director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education Robert Zemsky, wrote in the letter that "we stand at a crossroads." "American higher education is showing the strain of rising costs, diminishing resources and the consequences of failed national leadership," the letter, dated October 24, reads. Citing Clinton's "boldness of mind" and "stamina and resolve," the 220 university presidents, deans and trustees endorsed Clinton and his running-mate Al Gore as candidates who "will provide the leadership needed to reinvigorate America's most important intellectual and economic resources." The administrators stress in the letter that they write "in our personal, individual capacities, speaking only for ourselves, and not for any institution which we are, or have been, affiliated." Arguing that "every American must have the opportunity to prepare for the demands of the future," the supporters endorse Clinton's plans to restructure the federal financial aid programs to allow students to repay their loans by performing community service. Assistant Vice President for Policy Planning Morse said last night that his decision to endorse Clinton was "purely personal." Morse, who worked as a Republican staffer in Congress, said "that if you take a look at the last several years . . . you see an administration which has used itself as a bully-pulpit to bash higher education, and has done very little to help it." Morse said, however, that the current administration's efforts to give tax breaks for charitable gifts has been beneficial to higher education. But he added that President Bush's administration has cut student financial aid, cut minority scholarship funds and provided "less than adequate" research funding. Morse said that the Clinton platform for higher education "proposes new directions, not all of which I agree with." He said that he does agree with the Clinton plan to restructure federal student financial aid. Clinton campaign spokesperson for Pennsylvania Whitney said yesterday that the endorsement by top university administrators is unusual because generally they like to stay out of politics. Whitney said he believes the endorsement is important because the new Clinton supporters are all respected people in their fields. The names of each of the supporters is listed in the advertisement with the person's home town. The supporters' affiliations are not mentioned. Bryn Mawr College President Mary McPherson, Haverford College President Tom Kessinger and Drexel Provost Eli Fromm also were among those who endorsed Clinton. (CUT LINE) Please see ENDORSE, page 2 ENDORSE, from page 1Comments powered by Disqus
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