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Med School Implements Program to Increase Minority Faculty

By Ivan Oransky

In the past year, students and faculty have voiced an urgent need for more minority faculty members at Harvard.

There have been student demonstrations at the College and sit-ins at the Law School to demand that the University hire more minorities. Faculty have also expressed their dissatisfaction--Weld Professor of Law Derrick A. Bell is taking an unpaid leave of absence until the Law School tenures a Black woman professor.

And at the Medical School, a lack of minority faculty has also not gone unnoticed. Med School administrators implemented a minority faculty development program this year, which they say is a comprehensive plan to boost the number of minority professors and faculty trainees at Harvard and other medical schools.

Disappointing Statistics

Med School Dean Daniel C. Tosteson '44 says that low representation of minority faculty is a serious problem for Harvard, as well as for medical schools nationwide. In the October 18, 1990 issue of the school's newsletter, Tosteson wrote, "Nationally, the number of African-Americans applying to medical schools decreased from 2598 to 2160 between 1980 and 1989. The decrease was particularly marked among Black males. Moreover, the representation of minority groups in medical faculties at Harvard and throughout the nation has remained unacceptably low.

As of November 1, 1989, three percent of the full professors at the Med School were Black, Native American or Hispanic. Almost four percent of non-tenured faculty were minorities.

These figures do not show a significant improvement over the situation at the beginning of the 1980s, administrators say. The number of underrepresented minority faculty increased by one-tenth of one percent from 1981 to 1989, while the size of the entire faculty increased by 16 percent during this period.

In an attempt to remedy the problem, the Med School's Faculty Council last May endorsed the minority faculty development program and put it into effect this fall.

Program Goals

The program has three goals--to increase the number of minority faculty at the Med School, to increase the number of minorities who train at the Med School and later assume faculty positions at other medical schools, and to develop a model for minority faculty development to be used by other medical schools, says Clyde H. Evans, associate dean for clinical affairs.

These goals will be realized through the program's two faculty committees, Evans says. One of the committees aims to bring minority students from other schools to visit Harvard, and the other provides Harvard faculty as mentors for Med School trainees.

"Much of our emphasis will be on minority trainees," Evans says. "The fundamental reason is that an exceedingly large number of present faculty followed that path."

The first of the two working committees is a visiting clerkship program, which brings minority students from other schools to Harvard for one of their one-month hospital rotations.

"The visiting clerkship program would give exposure both ways. It would encourage more internship applications," Evans says, adding it would also give faculty a chance to work with minorities.

The second part of the program is a mentoring committee. Through the efforts of this committee, more than 200 faculty members have volunteered to be mentors for faculty trainees.

Evans says that Tosteson has asked each department to designate an affirmative action representative, who will be involved in the development program.

Although the primary focus of the program is to increase the number of minority faculty, Evans says the program may have a positive side effect on student admissions.

"I believe it will affect admissions indirectly. Recruitment and admissions will continue as always, with a quite good minority level," he says. However, "Word gets out. It will increase the number of students applying, and increase the image of Harvard Medical School."

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