Text of Letter From Derek Bok To PBH Member

"I have received the letter you sent me with respect to the proposals of the DuBois Institute Student Committee. Let me do my best to respond.

First I agree that a link should exist between the Institute and the Afro-American Studies Department. Because of Professor Guinier's intense opposition to the design of the Institute envisaged by the Faculty Planning Committee, this link has not been achieved during the current year, But as I stated to Professor Guinier last fall, new tenured members of the Department will be offered membership on the DuBois Advisory Committee. In addition, once a new chairman is appointed in the Department, following Professor Guinier's departure from that position next year, we can discuss with the new chairman the suitability of membership for one or more junior members.

Second, the concept of the Institute as a research and graduate institution does not merely represent the personal preference of Professor Brimmer or myself. The proposal for a "national research center" was made by the McCree Committee to Review the Department of Afro-American Studies in October 1972. In its report, the Committee envisaged an institute which "could become a center for thought and scholarship and help to fill a void in quality research and publications on Afro-American Studies. This concept was endorsed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on January 16, 1973 in recommending "the establishment of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research on a Faculty-and-University-wide basis." The concept was further endorsed by the Planning Committee for the Institute in 1974 by a 7-1 vote with Professor Guinier alone dissenting. It is my understanding that the Advisory Board of the Institute also supports this view.

This conception of the Institute is based upon the need to strengthen the body of knowledge underlying the field of Afro-American Studies and to develop a cadre of qualified teachers for the future. At present, less than one percent of PhD's in the country are black. Since professors of Afro-American Studies are likely to be black, and since the proportion of black PhD's is woefully small, an Institute which supports and encourages graduate students in the field will clearly fill a vital need. Moreover, as in the case of many newly established fields, it is important to encourage more research in Afro-American studies, a point that has been made by various black scholars.

In an Institute thus conceived, it is fat from clear that undergraduates should participate in its governance or direction Whereas such students may have useful ideas to contribute to the development of an undergraduate program in Afro-American Studies, their experience leaves them much less qualified to evaluate the needs of research and graduate training.

You seem to imply that undergraduate participation is needed to keep the Institute in touch with the concerns of the black community. If you examine the background of each member of the Advisory Committee. I think you will agree that a number of the members have extensive knowledge of the black community.

In conclusion, I must disagree very strongly with your statement that "the university's disregard of the DISC proposal again demonstrates a lack of real commitment to strengthening Afro-American Studies at Harvard." A succession of reviews by faculty members and others have supported the formation of a research and graduate institute to develop the body of knowledge and increase the number of teacher-scholars in the field of Afro-American Studies. Those who have supported this concept believe that such an institute will strengthen Afro-American Studies just as similar institutes have proved useful in many other fields of study. You apparently disagree. I hope that you would recognize, however, that those who differ with your opinions need not necessarily be accused of "a lack of real commitment" or a failure to respond "constructively."