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President Bok told 200 alumni recruiters last night "where Harvard is going, and why it matters so much."
Speaking with President Horner at the Biennial Conference of the Alumni Schools and Scholarships committees, Bok's brief talk dealt with equal access, financial aid to middle class students, and minority recruiting--all in terms of Harvard's "honest, restless search to do things better."
Complacency is a problem, he said, adding "we're alert to any incipient signs of decay."
Bok said a talented and diverse student body was one of Harvard's most important strengths.
He termed equal access a chance for Harvard to "reflect its deepest ideals." "We now have the freedom to look across the country wherever we can look for able students."
Horner said the only problems with equal access are "economic" or "societal"--convincing families with
Last year's sharp decline in minority applicants "ought to serve as an early warning that we must make an extra effort so a sharp drop in numbers won't result," Bok said.
He said minority recruiting is important to society, as a way to train large numbers of blacks for leadership positions in professional and public life, but also to maintain Harvard's diversity.
"You can't have a genuine liberal arts education preparing students for the world when they graduate, unless the student body reflects the same races and minorities in society," he said.
A question from an alumnus about the proposed 1-1-2 housing plan drew the most response from the audience. The alumnus said the plan, which would house freshmen in the Quad, sophomores in the Yard and juniors and seniors at the River Houses, seemed "at odds with what we're working for and with your principles of diversity."
Bok said the "intellectual role" of the Houses has fallen short and the University is working to "strengthen and fulfill the vision that they'd be more than fancy dorms."
"It's unfair to call it outlandish," he said, adding that the plan is less costly and possibly potentially more enriching than other options currently being considered
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