Minority students comprise 10 percent of this year's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) entering class--possibly a higher proportion than ever before--according to GSAS Administrative Dean John B. Fox Jr. '59.
And increased diversity in the graduate school "pipeline" to academia could eventually help address complaints about the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' (FAS) lack of ethnic and racial diversity, said Joseph J. McCarthy, assistant dean for academic planning.
"This is very good news, because this is exactly what Harvard and other graduate schools need to be doing," said McCarthy, though he said there is at least a seven-year lag time before the new graduate students enter the faculty ranks.
The 10 percent figure includes 30 Black students, 11 Chicanos, 12 Puerto Ricans, three other Hispanics and 6 Native Americans, according to Gayle E. Merrithew, associate registrar for graduate records.
The 36 Asian Americans in the class are not counted as minority students under GSAS guidelines. There are 606 students in the entire class.
"It is, I think, the highest percentage we've ever had," said Fox. Last year's proportion was about eight percent, he said.
"It's been a slow, steady effort rather than a jump," Fox said.
He said the "recruitment effort being made by a number of departments" has helped diversify the new class. Such efforts are fairly recent in graduate schools, Fox said.
New attention to minority students in the admissions process has had an effect as well, he said.
"When the deans of the graduate schools meet with departments to decide on admissions, there's now very close attention given to top-ranked minorities," he said.
Another concern for many, the number of women graduate students in the social and natural sciences, has not improved as dramatically as minority student enrollment, Fox said. The Brachman fund, begun last year to aid minority and female GSAS recruitment, has helped, he said.
"[Women] are underrepresented in physical sciences," Fox said. But Merrithew said the figures for this year's incoming class were not available.
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