Letter: The Siren Song of Wall Street

Letter from A. Scott Henderson (FL ’82) to The Washington Post:


I praise Elliot Gerson for his Nov. 21 op-ed, “From Oxford to Wall Street,” noting the increasing number of Rhodes scholars who choose lucrative financial-sector jobs instead of lower-paying ones in other fields.


I share Mr. Gerson’s concerns. As a member of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Finalist Selection Committee for 18 years, I have seen how the creeping (now skyrocketing) ascent of Wall Street salaries has siren-songed some of the brightest students away from public service. There have been notable exceptions — Susan Rice and Janet Napolitano are both Truman scholars — but the trend continues unabated among the country’s most promising college graduates, scholarship winners or not.


Although President Ronald Reagan’s demonization of government undermined the appeal of public service, nothing can compare to the riptide created by pay packages reaching far into the millions. We can only hope that Mr. Gerson’s reasoned voice of caution can be heard above the unreasoned hogwash that passes for economic wisdom.


A. Scott Henderson, Greenville, S.C.


The writer is director of national and international scholarships at Furman University.

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