President Bok and Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence will appoint a panel of faculty and administrators to help design a more aggressive minority faculty recruitment policy, Minority Student Alliance (MSA) officials said yesterday.
The new committee--which came out of a meeting with Spence, Bok, Associate Dean for Academic Planning Phyllis Keller, and students from the minority student group--marks "the first time in at least a decade" that a committee including senior faculty will address such issues, Allen S. Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation, said yesterday.
Spence could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Curtis Chang '90 and other members of the MSA did not know who would be on the committee and when it would first convene.
In a report released last month, the MSA raised the issue of minority faculty representation, faulting Harvard for lacking an aggressive program for attracting minority professors. The MSA called on the University to take the necessary steps topresent recommendations by the fall.
While the University disputed some of thereport's claims, administrators yesterday agreedwith one of its main recommendations, by formingthe committee, which will meet during the summer,according to Chang, who wrote the MSA report.
Chang said that the committee would representthe "first steps" toward attracting more minorityprofessors to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences(FAS).
"We definitely applaud Dean Spence's effortsand his realization of the necessity and urgency"of improved minority faculty recruitment, said MSAmember Raul Perez '90. He added though, "It's notyet an occasion to celebrate; there is a lot ofwork to be done."
Chang said that the MSA would monitor theprogress of the committee this summer. There arecurrently 26 minorities on the 383-member tenuredfaculty.
"We want to make sure [the committee] does notjust investigate, but sets up a clear plan," Changsaid. "We're going to be vigorous in making surethat the committee does not wither in the heat [ofthe summer]."
Assistant Professor of Sociology Roderick J.Harrison '70, who attended the meeting, said hewas "pleased and encouraged" by Spence'sannouncement.
"I think this puts us where we should be,"Harrison said. "We stand on common ground. I hopefrom here on out we can keep the trust and thechannels of communication open. It's a delicateenough thing."
When Spence could not attend the Aprilpresentation of the MSA report and declined tosend a representative from his office, MSAofficials said they were "disappointed" and left achair empty as a reminder of administrationabsence.
"At times it was rocky, but right now we arehopeful," Chang said. Of yesterday's meeting withSpence, Chang said, "He's certaintly demonstratedthat he's taking our requests to heart.