HEW Finally Says Yes


A weary Department of Health Education and Welfare finally accepted Harvard's third affirmative action proposal last week on condition that 13 items be modified--a happier solution than outright rejection for both Harvard and the government.

The plan, submitted to HEW on July 1, "forms an acceptable standard upon which the University can build and implement non-discriminatory hiring practices," John G. Bynoe, a director of the regional Civil Rights office wrote President Bok.

What the plan lacks in the eyes of the government, however, is a cohesive analysis of current hiring practices as well as a number of specific programs--including one that would assure salary equity.

Bynoe said the University must further clarify, amplify and document certain aspects of its programs, an order Bok indicated the University will comply with now that the plan has been approved.

"Today's letter of acceptance is a mandate for us to continue--and in some cases, accelerate--our efforts to attract and include women and minority groups at all levels of University activity," Bok said.


Walter J. Leonard, special assistant to Bok and the University's affirmative action coordinator who has seen two proposed programs thrown out by the government at a cost of $250,000 to the University, said the government's acceptance of the plan at least gives the University tangible outlines to work with.

Leonard reiterated Bok's comments, saying that HEW's acceptance of the plan represents a commencement of Harvard's effort.

For over two years, Leonard said, we have been looking at this thing [that affirmative action plan] from an amorphous standpoint." Now that the government has endorsed the plan, Leonard explained, the University can begin to implement the program.

HEW's acceptance of the plan was two months overdue. Ordinarily the department responds to institutions' affirmative action proposals within 45 days of their submission.

The plan accepted was the first of Harvard's two previous plans to include department-by-department analysis of available job pools and target figures for the increased hiring of women and minority group members.

The revised plan also includes a new nepotism policy that corresponds to the one endorsed by the American Association of University Professors.

Several women's groups as well as HEW said that Harvard's previous policy could be construed to discriminate against women applying for positions in departments in which their spouses were already employed.

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