Blue State Blues: Remembering Ann Porter, Harvard’s Quiet Conservative Sentinel


An extraordinary woman named Ann Porter died on Wednesday morning.

She was the wife of Roger Porter, who served as an economic adviser to President Gerald Ford while she worked in the U.S. Senate.

Roger and Ann Porter (Courtesy of Dunster House)

For the past several years, Ann and Roger Porter have served as the Co-Masters of Dunster House, the most spectacular of Harvard University’s dozen upperclass dorms at Harvard University, modeled after the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge.

I use the term “Masters,” because that is what they were called until that decorous title was scrapped last year in favor of the sterile “Faculty Deans.” Harvard made the shift in deference to the tide of political correctness in general, and the Black Lives Matter movement in particular. There was concern that students might feel “triggered” by the term “master,” which could conjure thoughts of slavery, though Harvard had been a hotbed of abolitionism.

Ann thought it all ridiculous, and regrettable. We shared our concerns over email — one of countless exchanges over the years.

I had been a student in Dunster — and a passionate partisan of the House — and joined the advisory staff as a non-resident tutor when I returned, years later, to study law. It was then that I came to know the Porters, who were among the few open Republicans on Harvard’s campus — soon to be enthralled by the cult of Barack Obama.

Ann and Roger carried their political convictions as they carried their Mormon faith: proudly, without imposing their views on others. Ann understood that students needed to find their own way. She provided a different view, rather than a dissenting one.

What worried her was that the university was becoming intolerant of intellectual diversity, even the quiet kind, as administrators colluded with students to poison the tree of knowledge at its roots.

Every once in a while, Ann would forward me the…

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