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Harvard Touched by College Admissions Scandal With Questionable Real Estate Deal

Harvard Touched by College Admissions Scandal With Questionable Real Estate Deal

“home sale may become the next chapter in the national debate over fairness in college admissions”

Until now, the college admissions scandal has highlighted crimes like alleged bribes, test cheating, and falsified data. A new story unfolding in Massachusetts revolves around the sale of a house.

Joshua Miller reports at the Boston Globe:

He bought the fencing coach’s house. Then his son got into Harvard

It was a modest house by this town’s standards, a center-entrance colonial, three bedrooms and a two-car garage on a quarter-acre lot. The inside hadn’t welcomed a renovator in many, many years, and the outside didn’t wear its age particularly well.

Its owner: Peter Brand, Harvard University’s legendary fencing coach. Its assessed value: $549,300.

So when the house sold to a wealthy Maryland businessman for close to a million dollars in May 2016, the town’s top assessor was so dumbfounded that he wrote the following in his notes: “Makes no sense.”

Now it might.

The buyer, it turns out, was the father of a high school junior who was actively looking at applying to Harvard with an eye toward being on the fencing team.

Soon enough, Jie Zhao’s younger son would gain admission and join the team. And Zhao, who never lived a day in the Needham house, would sell it 17 months after he bought it for a $324,500 loss.

The home sale may become the next chapter in the national debate over fairness in college admissions.

The Harvard Crimson notes that the school was not implicated in the national scandal, and has already opened an investigation for this specific case:

Breaking: Harvard Investigates Head Fencing Coach for Real Estate Transactions Involving Family of Current and Former Student-Athletes

Harvard will open an independent investigation into the University’s head fencing coach after he was allegedly involved in real estate and non-profit transactions with the family of current and former students on the team, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay wrote in an email to Harvard affiliates Thursday…

Harvard was notified of the allegations against Brand on Monday, according to Gay. The University has since opened an “independent review.”

Gay’s announcement comes in the wake of a nationwide admissions cheating scandal in which 50 people have been charged for taking part in a scheme involving the bribing of university officials and falsifying of test scores to earn the children of wealthy entrepreneurs and celebrities admission to top universities.

Harvard was not implicated in the scandal.

The man who bought the house from the fencing coach denies any wrongdoing, but Harvard has a stated conflict of interests policy, which may have been violated.

Scott Jaschik reports at Inside Higher Ed:

Admissions Scandal Hits Harvard

Zhao told the Globe that the purchase had nothing to do with his son’s efforts to get into Harvard. His son was an excellent student and fencer, Zhao noted. But he did want to help out Brand, who has had a long commute from his home to work and could benefit by buying a home closer to the university. (Zhao’s older son was on the team at the time.)

Brand did not respond to the Globe or Inside Higher Ed about the situation.

Harvard has a conflict-of-interest policy that would appear to apply to cases where a coach would sell a home at an inflated price to the father of an athlete and an applicant.

The policy states that “a conflict of interest exists when individual commitment to the university may be compromised by personal benefit. Employees are expected to avoid situations or activities that could interfere with their unencumbered exercise of judgment in the best interests of Harvard University.”

If this scandal does nothing else, it could lead to some much needed reforms in higher education, specifically in the admissions process.


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legacyrepublican | April 5, 2019 at 9:08 am

Okay, I’m going to ask it. I can’t resist a good pun.

A house really was fenced goods?

If this scandal does nothing else, it could lead to some much needed reforms in higher education, specifically in the admissions process.

Or, after all this advertising, the bribery and fraud could become much more widespread.

The problem isn’t that rich parents can buy admissions at Ivy League schools for their kids. That’s always been the case – just endow a professorship or a library or whatever at the school and your kid WILL get preferential treatment. The problem with these cases is that instead of legally bribing the school as a whole, they bribed individual school employees instead.

And if you think it’s hypocritical for the schools to deplore individual bribery whilst accepting group bribery for the same favors – you ar3 correct, sir or madam.

    Albigensian in reply to BobM. | April 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

    “if you think it’s hypocritical for the schools to deplore individual bribery whilst accepting group bribery for the same favors – you ar3 correct, sir or madam.’

    BUT, what you call “group bribery” does benefit the school as a whole, as the improvements can then be used by students and faculty. And (since money is fungible) perhaps free up money that would otherwise have been spent on these things to subsidize students who otherwise would be unable to attend.

    Whereas bribing individuals does nothing at all for anyone other than those directly involved.

    stevewhitemd in reply to BobM. | April 5, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Not enough ‘pro’ between the ‘quid’ and the ‘quo’…

    Mac45 in reply to BobM. | April 5, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    I have made this point over and over again. It is only a problem or illegal if the school does not get its cut. But, the biggest problem here is that many of the rich simply can no longer afford the amount of the bribe that these schools require to guarantee admission of a child. It used to be that half a million dollars would buy admission, from the school. Today, is several times that. Many of the rich have been priced out of the market.

    The true scandal here is that a common practice, which has been in place for literally centuries, has now become so expensive that the rich are forced to obtain access through the black market. But, no one seems to be concerned with that. This is a manufactured “scandal” designed to cultivate class envy. No one would have said a word if any of these people had given the money directly to the school, as an endowment, and their child had gained admittance, qualified or not. This has happened many, many times every year and no one even cared. Suddenly, it is a MAJOR SCANDAL. Rrrriiigghhttt.

    cucha in reply to BobM. | April 5, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Not to mention their blatant anti-Asian, pro-Black discrimination policies.

Albigensian | April 5, 2019 at 9:31 am

One of the ironies of the actual education product dispensed at the Ivies is that it’s not all that easy to flunk out.

It’s possible, certainly, and perhaps even likely if you’re so far below the median as to be unable to comprehend what’s being taught.

But between grade inflation and a near-automatic assumption that you must be capable since you were admitted, it’s just not all that easy for a below-average student to wash out.

Sounds familiar. Tony Rezko and the Obamas.

What we really need is cheaper colleges. We are not taking full advantages of advances in technology.

Books are in print form. Prices run $100-$400 each, with a lot of them in the $400 range.

Dorms are really, really nice. Almost like apartments. With pools. The rent is lovely, too, as is the likely return on investment.

The kids are used to relating to one another over the Internet. They do this, not often, for classes. Why doesn’t tuition drop?

Community colleges are really coming into their own, but they have real trouble scheduling classes students need to advance: classes fill up, or they are scheduled at intervals. It’s almost like the schools want to keep the kids an extra year, or two.

And why do we have so many professorships designed precisely to support political activists instead of teachers? Maybe we need to follow Japan’s example, and trim the curriculum.

Finally, we should treat the trades as the honorable path to productive adulthood it can be. I would add accounting and economics to their curriculum, along with the notion that, after a while, a tradesman should be able to run a small (or large) business, eventually.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Valerie. | April 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    The book thing is a racket. They constantly produce new versions, nearly identical, to make used book unusable.

    It seems like I read about an open textbook movement, with many people writing different parts of the book.

    I would not be surprised if professors are bribed to specify expensive books for their classes.

      “I would not be surprised if professors are bribed to specify expensive books for their classes.”

      Of course they are, you silly. Either directly or through the school. Publishers own the classroom. $160-worth books are a nice racket.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to Valerie. | April 5, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    As Val exhibits her inner Mike Rowe, I have to agree on the textbook question. I still have a few from the 60s (I find them useful for reference more often that I thought I would) and the prices noted on the fly leaf are instructive. It makes me wonder why one only saves a buck or two to go digital at Amazon when there is all that paper and ink not being used. I keep coming back to paying the authors. And for text books, let’s have a show of hands of any of you who has never had to purchase a “4th edition” when told the 3rd wouldn’t do, by the professor in the class who, coincidentally I am sure, also wrote the book.

    I would be negligent if I failed to give a nod to financing as a contributor to the overall costs. And government grants and loans are subsidies, pure and simple, and only lead to expansion. When people actually spend their own money on something they suddenly become more attentive to what it is they are buying.

Baltimore’s mayor was recently caught in a blatant act of self-dealing/self-enriching, by selling $500,000 worth of her cruddy children’s book to the University of Maryland Medical System in an under-the-table, no-bid contract (natch). Of course, to top it all off, the books were never actually used by children, and, are sitting collecting dust in a warehouse, somewhere. So, the whole thing was simply a corrupt act of using public office for personal financial gain.

The Board of that same UMMS hospital system now has several members who have resigned, after being discovered engaging in business transactions worth tens of millions of dollars with UMMS, benefiting their personal investments and businesses.

Corruption as per usual, where Dumb-o-crats/Dhimmi-crats are concerned. These reprobate apparatchiks and their cronies are always looking to game the system, to fill their pockets, even as they want to tax everyone else to death.

The only good things left in Maryland, these days, may be Larry Hogan and the U.S. Naval Academy.

DouglasJBender | April 5, 2019 at 11:20 am

When I was a Junior in high school, I strongly wanted to be a fencer. It seemed cool. Lo, years later, I worked in construction, and built a few fences.

Bitterlyclinging | April 5, 2019 at 11:38 am

Nothing new here, its been going on for a long time at Harvard.
How did Baracky Obammunist get into Harvard law with “C’s” from Columbia after flunking out of Occidental.
Someone I know, all ‘A’s’ in graduate school, couldn’t get admitted to Cornell because their undergrad grades didn’t meet Cornell’s admission standards.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Bitterlyclinging. | April 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Obama, someone took a steaming pile of crap, perfumed and spiffed it up, and then sold it to the public. The perfume wore off, but in the meantime our government was badly damaged and corrupted.

So this is a scandal but Hogg for fucking brains somehow isnt scandalous???

The Harvard is spiked by the Fake News Boston Globe. The dad of the Chinese family being smeared by the Boston Globe chose to fly to Boston to talk to the journ0 in person, and backed up his defense that his kid is a brilliant student with actual documents.

Yes,the purchase of the property owned by the fencing coach looks fishy but the kud´s schoolrecords are impeccable. Let´s not forget that elite scbools gave made it a policy not to admit Asian students.

Is it wrong for the dad to counter the school bias toward Asuan students by providing an incentive?

So let´s see: Harvard actively discriminate against Asian students to favor Blacks and faux Indiand.

What´s a rich Chinese dad supposed to do to get his kid in the school?

You have 3 minutes to convince me that what the Chinese dad did is so wrong, it should be investigated. GO.

The scandal isn’t that some people are being paid off, but rather, the wrong people are being paid off. Just watch, the scapegoats here will be lower level employees who brought attention to this. I can pretty safely predict that upper management will be shocked, I tell you, shocked to discover gambl…, err, that payoffs happened without their knowledge. I guess the only issues will arise when it comes to publicly funded institutions. Private, undergrad, schools should probably be immune to anything happening. But public schools, and those with graduate departments and professional schools which relying heavily on public funding, may face a different set of challenges. Of course, the legitimate students who got in fairly, may also have their say. I think the age of the American aristocracy in higher education may be coming to a painful end. Looks like the socialists running the universities just ran out of OPM.