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Attempts to increase minority representation on the faculty may be thwarted by a new Department of Education decision banning college aid that is awarded specifically to minorities, University officials said yesterday.
On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Michael L. Williams said that scholarships granted solely on the basis of race were discriminatory and illegal.
In a statement issued yesterday, Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 called the ruling "a step backward" and said that it would hurt University attempts to increase the number of minority Ph.D. students on the faculty track.
The College's financial aid system will probably be unaffected by the federal ruling because it only takes account of students' need, administrators said.
But the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' policy of giving full scholarships to all Black, Hispanic and Native American doctoral candidates may now be in jeopardy because of the Education Department's ruling, administrators said.
"The new interpretation is inconsistent with prior pronouncements by the Department and at odds with other federal and university objectives, such as increasing the number of minority faculty members in universities," Steiner's statement said.
Steiner said the University will not make any changes in policy until the Department of Education clarifies its position further.
In an interview yesterday, Steiner said the federal decision may hinder Harvard's efforts to increase minority representation on the faculty.
"The pool for faculty members is those people who have received Ph.Ds," said Steiner. "Unless there is a dramatic increase in the number of Blacks and Hispanics and Native Americans receiving Ph.Ds, there is not going to be a significant increase in the number of faculty members who come from this group."
"Strong efforts have to be made to increase Ph.D. recipients," Steiner said. "The [decision] by the Department of Education seems to run counter to that effort."
Drusilla D. Blackman, the associate dean for admissions and financial aid for GSAS, also said she was concerned about the decision's effects on minority recruitment.
Blackman estimated that about 180 minority doctoral candidates presently receive a Graduate Prize Fellowship, which provides full tuition for the time enrolled and a stipend for three years of study.
The fellowship program was created in 1972 as the Black Prize Fellowship and expanded later in the 1970s to include other minorities, Blackman said.
She said that her reaction to the Department of Education's decision was "one of disbelief."
"Our programs are designed to funnel people into academia," Blackman said. She said that Harvard had made a conscious effort "to increase the number of minorities receiving Ph.Ds to address what we foresaw then as going to be a problem in the future."
Blackman said that minority recruitment in other graduate schools may also be hindered by the Department of Education's decision.
However, the dean added that the GSAS would take no action until it had contacted the Department of Education. "We need to wait and see how this all sorts out before we panic and restructure something that has been very effective for us," she said.
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