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The Rosovsky Report: Black Studies Become a Reality


Part II:

(The following is the second half of the Rosovsky Committee report on Black Studies At Harvard. Part I, which ran in Tuesday's CRIMSON, outlined the general problems of being Black at Harvard. Today, the Committee makes specific recommendations toward changing the situation.)

IN ORDER to implement the goals outlined in Part I, we urge the following actions, to be undertaken immediately:

1) Appointment of a standing Faculty Committee on Afro-American Studies and budgeting of funds to implement the program development activities outlined below.

2) At the earliest possible time, this Committee should consult with the President concerning the appointment, possibly as a University Professor, of a distinguished scholar deeply concerned with Afro-American Studies and identified with the black American experience and community. The person appointed to this Professorship should be invited to assume the Chairmanship of the Afro-American Studies Committee.

3) Until the Professor is appointed, the Dean of the Faculty should serve as Chairman of the Committee to emphasize the University's concern for the program, as has been the case since the reorganization of General Education.

4) The Committee will recommend an appropriate number of tenure, term, and visiting appointments. These appointments may be made jointly with another Committee or Department, entirely within another Committee or Department, or entirely within the Committee on Afro-American Studies. The number of appointments will be determined by the nature of the programs developed by the Committee and the availability of qualified scholars and teachers. We feel, however, that it would be difficult to begin adequate degree programs without at least ten specialists in at least six areas of Afro-American Studies: history, sociology, political science, economics, and literature and the arts. The importance of visiting faculty should be continually emphasized. Many prominent scholars in the field have strong commitments elsewhere. Their experience and wisdom would, however, be helpful to Harvard in planning, launching, and developing its program.

5) In making appointments, the Committee and the University should note that many men and women, with considerable competence and national reputations in aspects of Afro-American Studies have not, for various reasons, acquired the normal academic credentials. This point is particularly applicable to people who have been active in efforts to create economic, social and legal and political change in recent years. Special efforts should be made to invite such people to serve as visiting members of the Faculty and fellows of the Center or Institute.

6) By September, 1969, the University should have secured the appointment of at least ten tenure, term and visiting faculty members. Appointments should be made so that at least five of these new faculty members will be able to begin teaching by September, 1969.

7) The Afro-American Studies Committee should encourage the development of course offerings in this area within existing Departments by present members of the faculty. The Committee and Departments should give serious consideration to appropriately structured courses involving community field work.

8) The Committee should arrange for freer inter-departmental interchange of Faculty and students in order to make tutorial and independent study in Afro-American Studies available to interested students. The Committee may need to establish an advisory mechanism to enable students to focus on Afro-American Studies within and among existing fields of concentration. The Committee should work with other Departments and committees to modify degree requirements, where necessary, to permit greater emphasis on Afro-American Studies within existing fields of concentration.

9) At the earliest possible time, the Committee should organize and add to Harvard course offerings, a colloquium or colloquia open to students interested in Afro-American Studies. It should work with other Departments and other Committees to insure that concentration credit will be awarded for these colloquia.

10) The Committee should begin discussion leading toward the development of an undergraduate degree program in Afro-American Studies. This degree should be available to students in the class of 1972--those presently freshmen. The most feasible way to make such a degree possible for this class may be to conceive the program as a combination of Afro-American Studies and an existing concentration. The Committee would offer colloquia and possibly tutorial and arrange in conjunction with existing concentrations for the evaluation of students in these combined programs. We emphasize that this is not necessarily the final form the undergraduate degree program will have. The Committee will make recommendations based on its experience and the ideas introduced by new members of the Faculty. It is not appropriate, at this time, to speculate on the form, content, or even the size of the proposed undergraduate program in Afro-American Studies.

11) Priority should be given to development of the undergraduate program. The Committee should, however, consider ways and means to create combined and/or separate graduate degree programs in Afro-American Studies.

12) Opportunities for research in Afro-American Studies at Harvard by Faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates ought to be expanded. Existing research centers at the University ought to be encouraged to provide greater opportunity for such research, and additional funds should be generated.

13) During the program development period, the Committee should consult with relevant individuals and groups outside as well as within the academic community.

14) The Committee should be restructured periodically in order to include new members of the Faculty.

15) The Committee on Afro-American Studies should immediately appoint a personnel committee to seek faculty members as outlined in paragraphs 2, 3, and 6. This personnel committee should be composed of an equal number of faculty and student members, in recognition of the students' high degree of interest, knowledge, and competence in this emerging, and in some ways unique, field of study. Student members should be selected by arrangement with the Ad Hoc Committee of Black Students and in consultation with other interested student groups.

16) It is hoped that the Committee on Afro-American Studies will add to its membership, at the discretion of the Committee and for certain particular purposes, student members as well as visiting faculty.

17) A central point of the Committee's work should be the establishment of a Center or Institute for Afro-American Studies. The purpose of this institution would be to provide intellectual leadership, a physical locale, and sufficient material resources for consideration of all aspects of the Afro-American experience. In addition, the Center should have funds to provide fellowships and research assistance particularly for men and women connected with predominantly black colleges, universities, and other institutions. The Center should, like the Institute of Politics, have a student advisory board.

Immediate Action

AFRO-AMERICAN and African Studies are two very different fields. The former is a new field and for the immediate future will remain primarily concerned with issues of definition, content, and expansion. By contrast, African Studies is an established field within general regional studies, and it should surprise no one that Harvard has a long and distinguished history in this branch of learning. In fact, in the years 1910 to 1915 Harvard pioneered African Studies in the United States; furthermore the University has remained a very active participant since that time.

These points deserve to be stressed because there is an impression that Harvard has somehow slighted African Studies. We did not find this to be the case, and in order to provide the necessary background, begin our assessment of the field with a brief historical review. As will be shown later, despite many years of activity, some problems remain. Therefore, certain recommendations will be made to improve the existing situation.

Although we fully agree with the need for stabilization and careful expansion, we also believe that this can be achieved without a separate African Studies Program. African Studies at Harvard--unlike Afro-American Studies--has had the advantage of satisfactory and congenial growth within established disciplines. It would be foolish to give up these advantages now, especially since stabilization and expansion can be achieved in other ways.

1) We recommend the establishment of a co-ordinating Committee on African Studies. The Committee should be chosen from Departments presently involved in aspects of African Studies. Student representation on the Committee is also recommended; these should be selected by the two branches of the undergraduate constituency concerned with African Studies.

2) The Committee on African Studies should be authorized to oversee the future increase and stabilization of courses in African Studies, with special emphasis on contemporary African society, culture, and politics.

3) Though the Committee on African Studies should work out its own methods for realizing the mandate invested in it by the Faculty, the following lines of action are offered as suggestions:

a. The Committee on African Studies should encourage and otherwise influence Departments like Government, Economics, History, Social Relations, Anthropology, Linguistics, Comparative Literature and Fine Arts to appoint members who specialize in African Studies.

b. The Committee should encourage Departments to persuade members with some interest in African materials to cultivate such interests, thereby increasing the number of teaching faculty members seriously concerned with Africa.

c. The Committee should avail itself of the opportunity provided by the Committee on General Education for expanding courses in African Studies.

d. The Committee should request the Faculty to adopt the proposal of the HRPC that Harvard undergraduates be permitted to cross-register in African courses at Boston University's African Studies Program, provided the consent of the Committee and the student's Department is obtained.

e. The Committee should request the Faculty to adopt the additional proposal of the HRPC that the procedure for cross-registration by Harvard students in M.I.T.'s African courses be described in the Harvard Catalogue of Courses.

f. The Committee might draw up a special list of courses being offered in the Harvard Catalogue of Courses.

GSAS Included

It is the unanimous opinion of this Committee that Harvard should make an intense effort to raise the number of black students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The reasons for this are obvious. Graduate education is becoming a prerequisite for many occupations and if black representation in the professions is to increase, some way must be found to enable black students to attend our best universities. Black graduate students would also contribute towards normalizing the social scene at Harvard.

The quality of student life--black and white--would be much improved if black people were seen in all capacities connected with the University. There is only one way to achieve this goal of local and national importance: to bring more black students into our graduate school; to make it financially possible for them to attend; and to see to it that they successfully complete their program of graduate education.

Although Massachusetts law forbids keeping racial statistics on GSAS admissions, it has been possible by querying department chairmen to arrive at an informal estimate of how many blacks have actually been registered for graduate study at Harvard and how many of these have subsequently received their Ph.D.'s. The total number registered since 1958 is approximately 28--the number to complete the Ph.D. only 8. Current enrollment runs to 20. Of the GSAS Departments, only English and Social Relations have had any significant number of black students.

The Committee is convinced that the problem has been less one of deficient preparation on the part of potential black students--although this has also been a significant factor--than one of locating the black talent that does exist. Most blacks have probably been deterred from applying to Harvard by its prestigious and frightening reputation. A systematic program, supplemented by word-of-mouth, appears to be the only answer.

IN ORDER to remedy this situation we propose, first of all, that the Graduate School set aside 15 to 20 graduate fellowships, each to run for 5 years and to be awarded to a black student who can meet the current entrance requirements; the fellowship program should continue indefinitely. The fellowships should carry a stipend of $5000, plus allowances for married status and children, and with the addition of generous provisions for loans or supplementary financial assistance where special family circumstances require it. The holders of such fellowships would also be eligible for appointment as teaching fellows in their later graduate years.

This program should be carried as a first charge on the pool of unrestricted fellowship money, and the graduate fel-

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