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Minority Faculty



To the Editors of The Crimson:

On May 3rd, students representing the different organizations in the Minority Students Alliance met with Dean A. Michael Spence to discuss the issue of minority faculty hiring, specifically the FAS reaction to our previously released report. Also present at the meeting were President Derek Bok, Dr. S. Allen Counter, Dean Phyllis Keller, Professor Roderick Harrison, and Professor Robert Putnam.

We, the MSA, felt that the meeting was a very positive one. We are listing below the accomplishments and agreements reached. Also listed are some additional questions that need clarification. We feel that the Administration should answer these points as soon as possible.

In addition, we want to make known our stand concerning the low minority pool nationwide, and its relation to minority faculty hiring.

Agreements and Accomplishments:

--The FAS recognizes the problem of lack of minority faculty members in the University. The different incentives established to date have been helpful, but they are not enough by themselves--some sort of periodic review process would be in order to make sure that satisfactory progress is being made.

--A Senior Faculty committee will be established as soon as possible. It will verify the need for a more aggressive minority faculty hiring policy, and will recommend steps to be taken to address the problem. We expect the committee to develop a draft of some sort of comprehensive, centralized plan.

--The committee will present its findings to the Faculty at some point after summer recess, before the end of November. It will address all areas, i.e., graduate school recruitment, post doc, junior and senior faculty hiring.

--The committee will be composed of a diverse set of faculty members in terms of academic discipline and ethnic background.

--The report will be immediately considered by the Faculty Council.

Questions Which Need Some Clarification:

--What will student participation in the deliberations of the committee consist of, beyond consideration of the recommendations included in our past report? Can a presentation of a rough draft of the final report be made to the MSA? Will the committee accept direct student input and feedback?

--How long will it take for the Faculty to revise and start implementing the recommendations? In other words, can we be given a rough timetable of both the development of the plan and its final consideration and implementation?

--Will there be some sort of permanent review body to check on the implementation of the final plan?

Where We Stand On the Issue of the Low Minority Pool:

At the meeting, the point of low minority pool nationwide arose. We recognize the existence of the problem and that it is one that cannot be solved easily. The low numbers nationally reveal structural problems in American universities.

Systematic solutions that address the problem at all levels are needed. Harvard should undertake a leadership role in the development of a comprehensive policy. The existence of a low minority pool demonstrates the need for such a program.

We strongly disagree with the use of the low nationwide pool as an excuse to avoid or delay seeking a solution. We all know that the numbers are low--we thus want to rectify that problem.

We feel that Harvard can increase appointments at all levels using the existing pool. There are highly talented minority senior level candidates across the nation. Their presence would motivate minorities at all levels, and would especially encourage undergraduates to pursue academia as a career.

Again, we applaud the efforts of the administration so far, but we also point out that the work has just begun. Wendell C. Ocasio '90   Minority Students Alliance

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