Professors and other employees of Harvard University have donated $140,600 to US Senator John F. Kerry's various campaigns since 1984, including several big donations from prominent academics in recent months, a review of campaign documents shows.
Recent donors include Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, who kicked in $1,000; former state public health commissioner Howard K. Koh, who also gave $1,000; and Daniel R. Glickman, director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, who gave $2,000 in January, the maximum amount an individual can give to a candidate.
The donations from people affiliated with Harvard rank it seventh among Kerry's largest donors, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan public policy research group in Washington, D.C. Boston-based law firm Mintz-Levin ranked first in the survey, with its employees giving $243,345 in donations to Kerry since 1984, the center found.
Of the $140,600 from Harvard-affiliated donors, nearly $67,000 was given in 2003 and 2004, the center found. It was the only university listed among top-ranking donors to Kerry, who is a Yale University graduate.
But on a campus teeming with former ambassadors and defense officials, as well as former and possibly future policymakers, the fact that Harvard faculty members are ranked among Kerry's biggest spenders should be no surprise, Glickman said.
"It's in Massachusetts. It's Boston. I think John Kerry knows a lot of people here at Harvard," Glickman said. "Members of the faculty have known him for years. They have worked on things together."
Glickman, who served as the secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton, also contributed to the failed presidential campaigns of Joseph I. Lieberman, Howard Dean, Wesley K. Clark, and Richard A. Gephardt. Glickman emphasized that the Kennedy School has hosted prominent GOP faculty members and visiting staff members.
The school is a mere 3 miles from Kerry's Boston townhouse. "Harvard is his backyard," said Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean of the College of Communication at Boston University and a 30-year veteran of political consulting. "If you think about it, Harvard is a big business. They are a knowledge-based industry that is incredibly important to the Massachusetts economy. John Kerry is the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party. It all adds up."
Other faculty said that there is no university connection to their donation and that they simply want a Democrat in the White House.
"I've known Senator Kerry since 1980. I think he would make an excellent president," said Richard L. Morningstar, adjunct lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School and a former US ambassador to the European Union. "And I think it's critically important that the Democrats win in November."
When asked if his contribution had anything to do with his connection to Harvard, Morningstar replied: "Absolutely not."
The school's Democratic leanings could also play a role. A 2001 survey by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said that 96 percent of Harvard's registered surveyed professors were Democrats.
On the other hand, Harvey C. Mansfield, a professor of political philosophy and an outspoken conservative, said Harvard's significant financial backing of Kerry merely "adjusts the confirmation of what everybody knows" about the political leanings of university faculty and staff.
"Everybody is a liberal and shows it," Mansfield said of many fellow professors. "They conduct classes in such a way as to make conservatives feel excluded. The atmosphere is very politicized. I think the lack of political diversity is a scandal."
Still, many of the donors contacted by the Globe said the figures weren't surprising, especially, said Tribe, with Kerry's visibility as a senator over the past 20 years.
"Although he's had national prominence, he has always been known in Massachusetts," said Tribe, who has previously advised Kerry on legislative and financial matters. "I would expect big donations at Harvard."
Globe correspondent Matthew Rodriguez contributed to this report.