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WEAL to Push K-School on Hiring Women

By Adam S. Cohen

Nearly two years after filing its initial complaint against the Kennedy School of Government, a national women's rights group is continuing to press demands for increased hiring of minorities and women.

Despite a recent finding by the Department of Labor that the K-School's affirmative action program is proceeding at an acceptable rate, spokesmen for the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) announced yesterday that the group, headquartered in Washington, D.C., will not drop its grievances against Harvard officials.

WEAL leaders said a one-time shift in K-School faculty apparently led Labor officials to approve the program. But WEAL leaders charged that the one-time shift may not produce long-term results in minority hiring because the K-School's overall affirmative action plan is "vague."

But Ira Jackson, an assistant dean of the K-School who is in charge of the school's affirmative action program, responded yesterday that the Labor Department "found no basis to WEAL's charges."

The K-School is currently involved in an extensive affirmative action program that "goes way beyond legal and statutory requirements," Jackson said.

WEAL members said Labor officials approved the K-School plan because the University recently transferred its City and Regional Planning program from the Graduate School of Design (GSD) to the K-School. The shift brought several women and minority faculty members from the GSD to the K-School.

Jeanne Atkins, staff attorney for WEAL, said the transfer does not guarantee that the K-School will maintain an increased commitment to minority hiring. "Our concern is that they will not learn to improve unless they learn to reach out beyond the walls of Harvard," she said.

A local division of the Department of Labor this summer issued a notification of the government's findings on WEAL's complaint. The report states that a "recent improvement in the numbers of women and minority faculty satisfy any questions raised by the complaint."

Atkins said that the K-School is committed to hiring just one new woman professor in the next six years, and has failed to commit itself to hiring any new minority faculty.

There are now 11 full professors, three associate professors and 7 assistant professors at the K-School, Atkins said. Of the total, there is only one woman assistant professor, and no minority professors, she added.

Jackson said that although the school had formally committed itself only to hiring one woman professor in the next six years, K-School officials may decide later to surpass that goal.

Jackson cited the K-School's summer program for minority students, its post-doctoral program for women and minorities, and its programs for recruiting Third World women. None of these programs is required by law, he said.

WEAL initiated its complaints against the K-School in October of 1980 under federally-mandated affirmative action guidelines for government contractors. Because of it's federal funding, the University is considered a federal contractor under the guidelines.

A WEAL spokesman said the Labor Department's findings on the WEAL grievances reflect "what seems to be the current Reagan administration stances." "The Reagan administration has been reluctant to press private institutions on affirmative action," the spokesman said

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