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Why We're Doing This

There is an effort to Terminate JARDING & IT'S WRONG


We are more than 100 concerned students who signed a petition to keep Professor Jarding at HKS

We are the students who saved all of our bid points for one course with Professor Jarding

We are the hundreds of students who still want to enroll in a class with Professor Jarding

We are alumni from around the world who believe Professor Jarding has taught us the skills we need to be leaders

#1 Student Rating

In Spring of 2019, Professor Jarding recieved an average course bid of 986 points - one of the highest on record.


Real Life Experience

Jarding offers substantial and unique professional experience to his students.

Teacher of the Year

In 2016, Jarding was voted Teacher of the Year by the Kennedy School student body.

Dedication to Students

Jarding is widely-regarded for his availability outside of the classroom - aiding students in every way possible.

The Issue:

    • Dean Elmendorf is terminating Professor Steve Jarding despite:
      1. 2017 Lecturer Review Committee’s gave Professor Jarding a glowing review and actually recommended a promotion (see below).
      2. Professor Jarding’s courses are oversubscribed and are regularly the most popular and highly reviewed at the Harvard Kennedy School. Students rave about the class years afterwards. See student testimonials here: Read course evaluations here:
      3. Students and alumni want Professor Jarding to stay! More than 100 students have already signed a petition to keep Professor Jarding at HKS and the number is only growing.

The following is a summary of the 2017 Lecturer Review Committee’s Report to Harvard Kennedy School Dean Doug Elmendorf regarding Professor Steve Jarding’s review for a Senior Lecturer position here at HKS. You will find the Committee’s report was thorough and glowing and recommended that Professor Jarding be elevated to Senior Lecturer status. That is why when we learned that Dean Elmendorf had instead made the decision to terminate Professor Jarding, we were shocked and angry and had a lot of questions. When we approached Professor Jarding for clarification as to his status at HKS, he graciously was totally honest with us and told us that he had nothing to hide from us or anyone else. In fact, he told us that several faculty members, in violation of HKS policy, had secretly slipped him a hard copy of the Review Committee’s report – in his words, “warts and all”. That report is telling and clearly suggests a miscarriage of justice with regard to Professor Jarding’s treatment by a second committee who ignored the research of the first committee and voted him out of HKS and by Dean Elmendorf who ignored the best interests of HKS and of the protests of hundreds of students, current and previous, who view Professor Jarding as a critical if not the best experience they encountered while at HKS. The leaked report to Professor Jarding by shocked faculty members clearly suggests that the mistreatment of Professor Jarding had caused a severe rift in HKS faculty and these angered professors wanted Professor Jarding to know the truth about the deliberations of the committee charged with thoroughly reviewing him for promotion. Not shockingly to us, Professor Jarding said he would share that report with us so we could see for ourselves what transpired. His only request to us was that he wanted to do right by the Kennedy School, an institution he loves and to which he has spent the past 15 years giving his all. He also told us that he neither encouraged nor discouraged us from voicing our opinions as to what transpired in his review. He simply requested that we be respectful in any deliberation we chose to undertake. A summation of the Review Committee’s lengthy report is provided here.

Lecturer Review Committee Summary of Report to the Dean
March 6, 2017

(Committee Members: Matt Baum, Chair; Jack Donahue, David King, Dan Levy, Tom Patterson, Julie Wilson)

Finding Language: The Committee’s final recommendation for Professor Jarding reads, “Given HKS’s need in the area of electoral politics and given Jarding’s overall teaching record, the committee recommends that Jarding be appointed a senior lecturer. Given the level of student demand for his courses, HKS’s need for such courses, and the possible difficulty of finding a replacement of the same or higher quality, the committee/a majority of the committee concludes that Jarding should be appointed senior lecturer.”

Yet, Dean Doug Elmendorf ignored this glowing recommendation.

This Committee noted that Professor Jarding’s student evaluations were “quite high” saying this was, “made more remarkable by the fact that the courses have large enrollments. This Committee noted that Jarding’s classes have become so popular that for his “Politician” course alone he regularly turns away a couple hundred students a semester while he teachers 60 each semester – an amazing course load – one which makes virtually all other HKS professors pale by comparison. As students who took Professor’s classes, we wholeheartedly agree with that assessment.

To arrive at their conclusion is to promote Professor Jarding, the committee interviewed and received requested review letters from several dozen colleagues, clients, political and educational practitioners and others. Virtual all were extremely complimentary and laudatory.

Included among those who had glowing assessments of Jarding’s teaching, and political and communication skills:

US Senator Tom Daschle, US Senator Tim Johnson & US Senator Mark Warner – The Committee described the letters by these Senators “very favorable” and ones that claimed Professor Jarding was “a leading and innovative consultant, who was adept at developing strategies that enabled Democratic candidates to win in states where they typically lose.” Senator Warner told the committee Jarding was politically “savvy.”

Political Pollster — Jeremy Rosner – Rosner one of the leading political pollsters in America said of Professor Jarding, “[Jarding] brings one of the most varied and successful records among the current generation of American political operatives…He is a terrific campaign professional, political pundit, and raconteur. I know he is a keen observer of current political trends.”

Political Consultant — Tad Devine – Devine, one of the top two or three political advertisement consultants in the world and a former IOP Fellow, told the committee, “Steve is a very smart man. He…is an original and creative thinker who possesses the ability to synthesize large amounts of information and provide a tremendous breadth of perspective. I have no doubt that Steve can satisfy the rigorous standards of Harvard University in terms of his intellectual capacity and creative, original thinking.”

Executive Director, Rede de Acao Politica (Brazil) — Marcos Campos – Campos wrote to the committee that Jarding was instrumental in helping him and a fledgling group of reformers to begin a program from nothing to one in which Jarding offers media and political campaign management training to dozens of candidates a year in Brazil. Campos said that without Professor Jarding there is no program. Period.

Founding President, PACT for Romania — Sebastian Burduja – Burduja, a former student of Professor Jarding, told the committee in a letter that no one at HKS inspired him more to service than did Professor Jarding. Burduja literally said that Professor Jarding’s teachings were transformative in his life and that he has dedicated his life to his cause and to reforming politics because of the inspiration provided by Professor Jarding.

Founder of Aspire Academy Romania — Alexandra Copos – Ms. Copos told the committee in a letter that Professor Jarding is the cornerstone of her program each summer wherein her Aspire organization offers leadership, communications and political training to 200 of the best high school and university students in Romania and from throughout Eastern Europe. The organization has many others who teach in it, but she said the organization exploded in participation and promise after Professor Jarding agreed to teach in it. And she noted that Professor Jarding refuses to be compensated for his teaching there each summer. In addition, Copos told the committee that Professor Jarding, “is regarded as the most inspirational Professor in the program. His deeply commitment to public service, his arguments for why one should seek public office in order to effect change on a large scare, his use of motivational case studies as well as his delivery made Professor Jarding stand out among our teaching staff and our students.”

Former Director Shorenstein Center HKS — Alex Jones – Jones who served as Shorenstein Center Director for most of the time Professor Jarding has taught at HKS, told the Committee, “[Jarding’s] willingness to make himself available to his students has made it possible for him to create a near mystique about him and his courses. He is tireless in his student engagement.”

George Washington University faculty member — Jason Linde – Professor Linde, who has never met Professor Jarding but knew of his reputation and successes in the classroom and on the campaign trail, told the Committee, “Harvard is lucky to have Steve Jarding teach its applied politics courses. There is not a single PhD in the country who is more qualified or who has had more experience in electing candidates to office than Steve Jarding. Teaching the next generation of leaders at Harvard about practical politics is akin to the challenges facing the teaching faculty and new residents at Mass General. While textbook theories and discussions are helpful, residents and future political practitioners truly benefit and learn from someone who has previously performed surgeries or in this case, run major political campaigns.”

HKS Professor Holly Weeks – Professor Weeks taught with Professor Jarding in Romania one summer and told the committee this about her exposure to Professor Jarding’s teachings and passion, “I was newly impressed by his teaching style – open, kind, deeply knowledgeable, clear and notably inspiring. Students were leaning forward in their chairs listening to him. While on stage before faculty and their peers, they would try new approaches that were not successful, get feedback from Steve without losing their self-esteem, try again, and keep trying until they nailed it. That requires major confidence that Steve will be supportive throughout without being soft.”

HKS Professor Jeff Seglin – Professor Seglin told the committee, “Because my office used to be two doors down from Steve’s in the Taubman Building, I witnessed how tirelessly he works one-on-one with his students.”

This committee also said it reviewed “hundreds of comments that students provided in their written evaluations of Jarding’s courses also testify to his quality of mind. Nary a one criticized his intellect and sprinkled liberally throughout their comments were words like ‘smart,’ ‘insightful,’ ‘sharp,’ ‘keen,’ knowledgeable.’”
This Committee reminded Dean Elmendorf that “Jarding teaches a lot of students, and they give him high marks. Last year he received the Manuel C. Carballa Award for Excellence in Teaching – HKS’s equivalent of a teacher-of-the-year award.”

This Committee told Dean Elmendorf that “Jarding spends a great amount of time advising and working with students. There’s typically a long line of students outside his door and he makes himself available until the last has been seen.”
This Committee told Dean Elmendorf, “Jarding’s commitment to his students is extraordinary. In the written section of students’ course evaluations, there are literally scores of comments like the following:

‘Instructor is so dedicated to his students. I was incredibly impressed by how much time he devoted to us outside of class.’

‘Professor Jarding is dedicated. Just can’t fathom how he goes through all our speeches and touches on all the little mistakes and gives valuable feedback.'

‘While he is in high demand you wouldn’t know it as he makes time for every single student and unlike other “star” professors is incredibly accessible and gives very specific…feedback.”

‘I’ve never met such a wonderful professor in my whole life – a very good teacher as well as a very approachable person.”

‘This is by far the best course and the best professor ever.’

‘Professor Jarding is far and away the most generous professor I’ve had this year…His effect to provide for students are far too rare at HKS, and have aided my personal development immensely.’

‘Professor Jarding really cares for his students and goes above and beyond to ensure our success.’

‘I will miss this class more than any at HKS.’

In addition to these student reviews for Jarding which regularly average 4.5 out of a total of 5 possible points from students, a remarkable score considering the size of Jarding’s classes, and ranking him among the highest in the Department, Jarding also arguably is the Kennedy School’s most popular professor based on one other criteria – bidding points for his classes. As we know, at HKS students get 1,000 points each with which they can bid some of these points to the most popular classes at HKS which because of demand go to “bidding” by the students. Jarding’s “To Be A Politician” class regularly is the highest bid course each semester – normally bidding as high as 850 – 900 average points. This suggests that while students can use points to bid on several courses each semester, dozens of us at HKS are saving our points each year so that we can use virtually all of them to try to ensure they get into Jarding’s class. In this “Politician” class, Jarding regularly turns away over 200 students a semester while taking approximately 60 students into the class. Finally, as evidence of Jarding’s popularity with students, in 2016 he was named Teacher of the Year by students at HKS and finally, his Campaign Management Course was twice nominated as the most influential course at HKS.

Yet, while virtually every one of the reviewers sought out by the committee were extremely positive toward Jarding’s teaching performance, three individuals asked for comment by the committee were not kind to Professor Jarding. These three less than glowing reviews came from three of Jarding’s colleagues at HKS. The three and their summations include:

  1. Nicco Mele, Director Shorenstein Center at HKS told this committee, “Although Jarding’s classes are enormously popular with students, I believe that only looks true in the absence of other choices.” Professor Mele arrived at this conclusion even though the committee concluded that they could find no other professors in the country who could offer the same or higher quality of teaching for the courses that Professor Jarding teaches.

    Professor Mele cannot appreciate the media and campaign techniques taught by Professor Jarding, possibly because they are based on Jarding's own original research, and as we understand it, Professor Mele has only worked on one campaign and has not managed a campaign. Furthermore Professor Mele has not seen Professor Jarding’s training and material presented in class because Professor Mele has never stepped foot inside Professor Jarding’s classroom!

  2. Arthur Applebaum, a tenured Professor at HKS told the committee, “… what he [Jarding] teaches is stunningly devoid of any sort of intellectual content or conceptual analysis, and his are probably are (sic) the most cynically instrumental courses offered at the school.” Professor Applebaum apparently did attend some of Jarding’s classes ahead of writing these conclusions. Yet, when we checked Professor Applebaum’s CV he has never worked in a political campaign nor run one. We feel Professor Applebaum fundamentally does not understand campaigns or political reality. Professor Jarding’s courses are intellectually rigorous and based on practical knowledge and as a practitioner Professor Jarding is not cynically instrumental – he is practical and realistic. Professor Jarding’s starts each semester of his popular Making of Politician course with a lecture explaining the immense responsibilities and potential impact of elected officials. More than any other professor at HKS, Steve Jarding teaches HKS students the value of public service. Like John F. Kennedy, the namesake of HKS, Professor Jarding inspires students to public service in the real world not in ivory tower theory.

  3. Alex Kayssar, a longstanding tenured Professor at HKS, told the committee, “I sometimes found Steve difficult to deal with – particularly regarding the size of his classes and the rooms to which they were assigned. He was reluctant to cap his courses and would insist on having rooms that permitted him to maximize enrollments. He was also somewhat resistant to my advice that he cap his courses at lower enrollments.” So, Professor Kayssar actually told this Committee that he wanted Professor Jarding gone because Professor Jarding works hard to try to “maximize enrollments”! And he found Professor Jarding ‘difficult to deal with’ because Professor Jarding resisted Professor Kayssar’s advice to cap his courses and ignore student’s best interests. Hundreds a year try to enroll in Professor Jarding’s courses and Professor Jarding tries to accommodate as many as possible by maximizing enrollments. Those of us fortunate enough to enroll in Professor Jarding’s courses are grateful, not upset, that Professor Jarding works so hard to try to accommodate as many students as possible.

2nd Committee
of Senior Lecturers and Tenured Faculty at HKS

Following the highly favorable recommendation made by the actual “Review Committee” that Jarding be granted “Senior Lecturer” status for a five year period capable of review at the completion of that new five year arrangement, HKS allows a second committee made up of Senior Lecturers and Tenured Faculty at HKS to vote on the recommendations of the first committee. That is, this 2nd Committee did no additional research on Professor Jarding than that done by the first committee. This 2nd Committee doesn’t really do anything but vote on individuals whose selection to the Senior Lecturer positions would make these individuals look bad. It seems simple to us, Professor Jarding’s record now exceeds EVERY person on the Senior Lecturer Committee at HKS. And because every one of these Senior Lecturer Committee members are themselves reviewed every five years for renewal or termination, they had the massive and obvious albeit selfish motive to kick Professor Jarding out.

We find it noteworthy that there apparently is no record of the proceedings of this vote, but according to Dean Elmendorf, this committee voted Jarding down – not because of Jarding’s teaching, which Dean Elmendorf himself described as “exemplary” but because the larger committee, according to Dean Elmendorf said Jarding was, “difficult to work with.”** Dean Elmendorf would not provide any other details of the discussion or of the actual vote when asked.

**The HKS Faculty Handbook, in its sections on qualifications to be promoted to senior lecturer lists five criteria – ALL teaching related – ALL criteria on which Professor Jarding rose to the top of the list the most sought after HKS professors. None of the five criteria for promotion to senior lecturer calls for a Professor to prove he\she is not “difficult to work with.” We trust that the Handbook doesn’t call for such a criteria because it is a ridiculous and spurious argument.


Dean Doug Elmendorf

The HKS Dean, Doug Elmendorf, holds the power to overrule either or both of the recommendations of the two committees. As Dean of the School, Elmendorf has that power. Indeed Dean Elmendorf has such necessary veto power because should a committee make a selfish, unjustified and unwarranted recommendation, one that would not only hurt the school by depriving it and its students of world class educators, but would tarnish and undermine the very reputation of the heralded School over which he presides, it is his responsibility to veto it.

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