Uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel into the U.S. for those with both immigrant and non-immigrant visas is roiling Harvard Business School. Nitin Nohria, dean of faculty, sent an email to students, faculty, and alumni today (January 30) expressing deep concern and calling for patience as the school works “to understand the implications for our community of this new order.”
Nohria, a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. from India, wrote in the email that the order issued last week by Trump that restricts entry or re-entry into the U.S. of citizens and nationals of seven countries in the Middle East and Africa has created “anxiety and confusion about how the country will deal with the flow of people through its borders.” He said he was personally “distressed” by news of the order and reminded HBS students that the situation is “fluid and rapidly evolving.”
“We ask for your patience,” Nohria wrote, pointing to efforts by Harvard’s International Office to reach out to international students and scholars. “We hope to provide additional information shortly for those with questions about what the order will mean, both in the short and long term, for everything from careers post graduation for our students to faculty recruiting to our executive programs. … Working together, we can protect the exchange of people and ideas that are so vital to the educational experience.”
BIG IMPACT ON U.S. GRAD SCHOOLS
Trump’s order, announced Friday (Jan. 27), suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocks for 90 days citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who use both immigrant (permanent residence or green card) and non-immigrant visas, regardless of refugee status. More than Harvard will be affected. Students in the U.S. from the seven countries currently number in the tens of thousands, according to education researcher Rahul Choudaha, founder of the DrEducation blog, with more than 12,000 concentrated in graduate programs. Take those students out of grad school and schools across the country could suffer, Choudaha says — and not just because of the a loss of tuition.
“The majority of these graduate students are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, and many of them are at the doctoral level,” Choudaha tells Amy Wang of Quartz. “So, the schools face a financial loss at one level — but a bigger one is the loss of talent, research, the contributions these students will make to the advancement of the field.”
Trump’s order has already had what Nohria calls “dampening effects” on Harvard students’ and faculty’s mobility — and therefore on the school itself. He said students are suddenly questioning career prospects and wondering whether their families will be able to join them for commencement; faculty are debating whether to travel for research and teaching; class visitors are cancelling trips; and alumni are uncertain about returning to campus for reunions or other activities. The school’s executive programs, comprised of two-thirds international students, may see an enrollment decline, Nohria added.
“Whatever the intention of the order, its implementation has led to disruption and fear, and it undercuts the very foundation of academic institutions like HBS,” Nohria wrote.