When most Harvard students look around at their peers, they see diversity. Diversity of races, orientations, religions, cultures, ethnicities, and just about anything else is easy to find among students at Harvard. However, there's one thing at Harvard that isn't quite so diverse: our walls.
Walking through the dining halls and the common rooms of the houses, you will see many portraits of wealthy-looking, white, high-collared individuals—who were, no doubt, benefactors or faculty at Harvard. With a centuries-long history of elitism at Harvard, it's not surprising that many of Harvard's historical benefactors and faculty were white, and the portraits reflect that.
According to The Boston Globe, in 2002 there were 750 portraits at Harvard, 690 of which were of white men. Of these portraits, only two were of minorities, and the others were of white women.
The Harvard Foundation has made efforts to change these statistics.
In a recent move to reflect the diversity of individuals who have served the University over the past 25 years, the Harvard Foundation has launched the Harvard Foundation Portraiture Project.
The project aims to diversify these portraits by funding portraits of minority alumni, faculty, and other individuals related to the University. So far, the project has hung eight portraits of minority faculty members and two of white faculty members who have helped further diversity at Harvard.
Portraits have been hung in many of the upperclassmen houses, the Medical School, and University Hall.
The next portrait is scheduled to be unveiled next month, and will picture Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, who in 1665 became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard.
The Foundation has scheduled the unveilings of five more portraits over the next two years.