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University Hires Diversity Officer

University hires Lisa M. Coleman of Tufts to oversee staff diversity

By Tara W. Merrigan, Crimson Staff Writer

Lisa M. Coleman, Tufts’ first executive director of institutional diversity, will join Harvard as Chief Diversity Officer on Dec. 30, the University announced last week.

Executive Vice President Katie Lapp expressed enthusiasm yesterday about Coleman’s appointment to the position, which will focus on staff diversity.

“Lisa has a strong background in the theory of diversity of inclusion balanced and [sic] a very pragmatic approach,” wrote Lapp in an e-mailed statement. “She will play a key leadership role at the University.”

She will also serve as special assistant to President Drew G. Faust.

Coleman comes to campus as the University has had mixed success with diversity issues.

Since 2003, the number of female faculty members at Harvard has grown by 16 percent, while the number of minority faculty members has risen 23 percent, according to a recent report.

But that period has also seen a number of high-profile controversies surrounding diversity issues, including the widely reported comments of then-University President Lawrence H. Summers suggesting women might have a lesser aptitude for science and math.

More recently, multiple incidents of alleged racial profiling involving the Harvard University Police prompted University President Drew G. Faust to commission an investigation of the issue last fall.

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow and Provost and Senior Vice President

Jamshed Bharucha lauded Coleman’s efforts at Tufts in an e-mail to students announcing her departure.

“She has overseen the work of a reinvigorated Office of Equal Opportunity,

launched new programmatic initiatives, and established strong ties between diversity programs across our Schools and administrative divisions,” they wrote.

Prior to her work at the Office of Institutional Diversity, Coleman was the director of the Tufts Africana Center—established to raise awareness of on-campus diversity issues and to provide Tufts students of African descent with resources to prepare them for leadership in professional settings.

Coleman did not return requests for comment for this article.

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at

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