University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.

-- Henry A. Kissinger

Likely predated by:

The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low.

-- Wallace S. Sayre, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University

The Autumn 1977 issue of PS, the journal of the American Political Science Association, published a letter from Herbert Kaufman, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Mr. Kaufman wrote that Professor Sayre's formulation was as shown above.
From: Quote Investigator.