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A GSAS Trouble Spot


By far the most hotly debated issue at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences last year was the question of minority recruitment and admissions. Ever since affirmative action became a widely acknowledged issue, the GSAS has been trying to design policies to recruit, admit and keep minority Ph.D. candidates.

But none of the programs has been particularly successful--as demonstrated by the fact that less than 4 per cent of the total GSAS student body last year was black, Hispanic-American or native American.

GSAS administrators have always contended that the problem stems, in large part, from the fact that qualified minority candidates are attracted to professional schools, where they can get much more marketable degrees.

Last fall, minority graduate students disagreed in force with this explanation. The GSAS Minority Student Task Force charged that the GSAS administration's minority recruitment and admission effort was a bungled failure and unveiled a plan for reorganizing the program.

The proposals called for the creation of a Faculty committee to constantly review and monitor GSAS minority admission policy, for a broadening of the minority financial aid program and, most importantly, for the creation of a new minority admissions administration post.

After a four-month lobbying effort by the task force with Dean Rosovsky and the Faculty Council, Rosovsky in April offered a general endorsement of the plan and called for the formation of a four-member faculty review committee to draw up a job description and interview for the new post.

Not until mid-June, however, were the four members of the faculty committee selected and not until this week was a job description for the post approved. It now appears that the long-sought minority admissions, administrator will not be installed at Byerly Hall before January, 1978, or more than midway through the current admissions season.

Members of the minority task force had expressed concern that the new admissions administrator not be mere window dressing. They rejected suggestions by some faculty members that the new administrator work primarily as a counselor for minorities as "based on a mistaken belief that minority students' lives are problem oriented."

The faculty subcommittee essentially postponed the entire issue of determining the mix of duties of the post by writing an extremely general job description. It states, in part, "Initially, the primary responsibility (of the post) will be to develop and implement programs and policies that might lead to an increased enrollment of minority students and which will help these and other students to complete successfully their graduate studies."

"Nobody of the quality we want is going to go into a job that didn't exist before with a really strict deliniation of the proportions of time he'll devote to the various activities of the job. The job should be developed as the circumstances dictate, "Edward S. Keenan, Dean of the GSAS, says.

It is still uncertain whether or not GSAS will be able to attract a candidate "of the quality we want" within a short period of time, Peter S. McKinney, administrative dean of the GSAS, says, adding that the timing of the search for the new administrator, coming as it does after the start of a new academic year, will "make it more difficult" to attract top-notch applicants who do not already have other academic committments.

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