HEW Report Nudges University To Change Minority Hiring Plan

Harvard has apparently agreed to revise its minority hiring practices as the result of an investigation by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

A University statement released late yesterday afternoon said, "The Regional Office of HEW submitted to President Pusey today preliminary findings upon Harvard University's equal employment opportunities program. Harvard will submit its comments upon the findings and an affirmative action program at a later date."

The statement said Harvard and HEW have agreed to release no further details at this time. Edward Wright Jr., assistant to the President for Minority Affairs, refused to enlarge upon the release.

Hidden in the innocuous wording of the statement is the fact that Harvard seems to have agreed to do what last Spring it claimed would not be necessary.

When three investigators showed up last March to review Harvard's compliance with equal employment-opportunity provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, L. Gard Wiggins, administrative vice-president of the University, said he was confident that Harvard's current minority hiring program would satisfy the government.

An executive order following the 1964 law demanded proof of an "affirmative action program" for guaranteeing equal opportunity of employment to minority-group workers from any University receiving Federal funds. Harvard received $60 million in Federal funds last year.

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The order was only laxly enforced at Harvard until last year when responsibility for enforcement was switched from the Atomic Energy Commission-the Federal Agency giving Harvard the most money-to HEW.

In November 1969-after several large institutions, including Yale, Princetonand M. I. T., received letters from HEW demanding proof of "affirmative action" the President and Fellows issued a statement assuring Harvard's commitment to "continuing and expanding positive programs which will assure the strengthening" of equal-opportunity hiring policies.

Later, in January, the Corporation announced the appointment of Overseer Clifford L. Alexander '55 to develop a "comprehensive minority hiring program" for the University.

The head of the HEW investigating team said when it arrived here in March that no university had ever satisfied HEW's requirements without making at least a few changes.