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Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof ’93 Joins Harvard as Third Professor in Ethnic Studies Cluster Hire

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay works in University Hall.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay works in University Hall. By Thomas Maisonneuve
By Meimei Xu, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: July 13, 2022, at 2:46 a.m.

Jesse E. Hoffnung-Garskof ’93 has joined Harvard’s faculty as the third professor to be brought in as part of an ethnic studies cluster hire initiative by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Hoffnung-Garskof, currently a professor of history, American culture, and Latinx studies at the University of Michigan, joined Harvard as a professor of History on July 1 but will be on leave until next year, according to a Monday announcement from the school. He joins two other ethnic studies scholars Harvard has brought in as part of its cluster hire — History professor Erika Lee and Government professor Taeku Lee.

The Coalition for a Diverse Harvard announced the hiring in a tweet on Friday. FAS spokesperson Rachael Dane declined to comment. Harvard officially announced his hiring on Monday.

Jeannie Park ’83, Coalition for a Diverse Harvard co-founder and board member, wrote in a statement that Hoffnung-Garskoff’s acceptance of Harvard’s job offer is “a second burst of exciting news” just three days after Harvard announced Erika Lee’s appointment.

“Harvard said that faculty had to come before structure, so now it’s time to give the new and existing faculty, who have been presenting plans for Ethnic Studies for years, the resources to build,” she wrote.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay announced in February the school was “actively recruiting” four scholars it had identified as part of its ethnic studies cluster hire.

Hoffnung-Garskoff was among several scholars, including Erika Lee, who visited Harvard in 2020 as part of a lecture series featuring ethnic studies faculty candidates.

Starting in 1972, Harvard affiliates have advocated for an ethnic studies program for five decades. In June 2019, Harvard announced Gay will hire three to four senior faculty in Asian American, Latinx, and Muslim American studies. The search for ethnic studies faculty was suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it resumed roughly four months later.

In her statement, Park wrote the Coalition still regrets that Harvard denied tenure to other ethnic studies faculty, such as former Romance Languages and Literatures associate professor Lorgia García-Peña, whose tenure denial in 2019 caused national outrage.

“While we celebrate the new hires, we still mourn the loss of Prof. Lorgia García-Peña and other Ethnic Studies faculty whom Harvard failed to tenure in recent years,” she wrote.

—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at meimei.xu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.

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