The University is expecting to offer an unprecedented number of
positions to African-American faculty this school year as Harvard steps
up its recruitment of female and minority professors, University
President Lawrence H. Summers said yesterday.
In a wide-ranging interview in his Massachusetts Hall office
last night, Summers reaffirmed his commitment to attracting
underrepresented groups to Harvard’s faculties and said the number of
“outreach appointments” would continue to expand. But he declined to
provide an accounting of how the University would disburse the $50
million it committed last year to female and minority recruitment over
the next decade.
The spending pledge came in the wake of the uproar over
Summers’ remarks on women in science last semester and the report of a
faculty task force that found the University had made “only limited
progress” in recruiting women and minorities to its ranks.
“We want to make certain that budgetary considerations never
preclude a situation where we are able to recruit an extraordinary
faculty member who adds diversity,” Summers said yesterday.
Evelynn M. Hammonds, who was appointed this summer to the
newly created post of senior vice provost for faculty development and
diversity, “is in the process of organizing her office,” Summers said.
In an unusual arrangement for the University, Hammonds will advise
Summers on junior faculty appointments and tenure decisions at all of
Asked yesterday if he viewed the new initiatives for female
and minority recruitment as affirmative action, Summers said, “No,”
then stopped himself and added, “I mean, in a sense, I suppose it
represents an affirmative action. But I don’t think the vocabulary of
affirmative action is necessarily helpful in talking about it.”
Summers also said he was encouraged by the College’s efforts
to recruit low-income applicants as part of the Harvard Financial Aid
Initiative he launched nearly three years ago for students with family
incomes under $60,000. Twenty-two percent of students in the Class of
2009 qualified for the initiative, up 22 percent from the previous
“I’m told that the recruiting over the summer went very well,” Summers said, “so that upward trend is likely to continue.”
A NEW START
As Summers begins what could be the most crucial year of his
presidency, attempting to recover from the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences’ no-confidence vote last semester, he said he has reached out
to the Harvard community.
“I think I’ve had a lot of good conversations over the summer
and in the fall with many members of the Faculty in trying to focus on
issues that are of great concern to the University,” he said.
Summers suffered a further setback this summer as Conrad K.
Harper, the only black member of Harvard’s top governing board, stepped
down from the Corporation, saying he “could no longer support” the
president. But Summers declined to address the issue yesterday.
A six-member committee of the Corporation and Board of
Overseers is searching for Harper’s replacement on the seven-member
board. Summers said he and committee members had “talked about what
kinds of people are important to have on the Corporation, the
attributes that are important.” But he would not say whether he thought
Harper’s seat should be filled by another minority or a woman.
PICKING UP THE TAB
Summers began yesterday’s interview with a preamble on his
commitment to improving undergraduate student life. Last month, he put
his money where his mouth is by earmarking between $6 and $7 million
for student space, including a café in Lamont Library and a pub in
The pub, high on the wish list of Harvard undergrads, is slated to open next fall.
“I definitely will stop by,” Summers said.
—Staff writer May Habib can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Zachary M. Seward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.