To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Dean Ford's position in the CRIMSON article of April 27 is based on the assumption that Harvard should concern itself with having the highest possible academic excellence right now and with nothing else.
But Harvard is not an independent entity. It draws its resources--money, students, and professors--from the whole of American society, and it has a responsibility to work for the good of the whole society. In particular, as an important American institution, Harvard has an obligation to American Negroes.
People and institutions have wronged Negros for centuries. Policy-makers should not now merely ignore the question of race, but should act to end the wrongs being done today and to alleviate the effects of those done in the past. Harvard can, without sacrificing academic excellence, help Negroes to overcome the handicaps of discrimination and unequal opportunities.
Harvard has made an active effort to recruit more students from poorer schools and from areas that have sent few or no students to Harvard in the past, because they recognize the academic potential that many of these students possess.
Why not apply the same policy to the recruiting of professors? In most colleges where Negroes can teach, there are inadequate research facilities, and an atmosphere unconducive to research. The chance to work at Harvard would enable Negro professors to make fuller use of their research potential. If it were to look, Harvard could surely find some Negroes qualified to be Harvard professors. Such institutions as the University of California and the University of Chicago have Negroes in tenure positions. Not all Negroes are first generation educated, and some first generation educated whites have been found qualified for Harvard professorships.
By hiring Negro professors, Harvard will be helping itself in the long run, as well as helping Negroes. It will be speeding the development of an ever broader base of well-educated people from which it can draw for both students and professors.
The University should not wait until embarrassment forces it to hire a Negro professor. The fastest way to build up a "pyramid" of academic excellence is not layer by layer. People in the highest levels inspire and give hope to those "on the way up."
Negro professors at Harvard now would be dramatic evidence to today's Negro students that they will have the opportunity after graduation to use to the fullest the abilities they are now developing. Words of promise for 25 years from now cannot have such power. Sally Akan 1G Nancy Curtis 4G Nancy Hicks 2G Martha Kingsbury 1G Judy Victor 3G