Diversity Questionnaire Response
Candidate for Elected Director
Krishnan Namboodiri Subrahmanian AB ’03 magna cum laude
Attending Pediatrician, Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota; Maternal Child Health Specialist, Partners in Health (COPE Program)
1. How important should diversity be at Harvard? What strategies should the University pursue regarding this? (Please discuss specific programs and policies if you can.)
I want to thank these organizations and the members they represent for creating community, advocating fiercely and caring so deeply about the issue of diversity at our University. While I enjoyed thinking about these questions, I want to emphasize that this is a draft. Meaning, I am eager to listen, learn and refine my knowledge to be better. Anyone reading this should feel free to reach out and teach me more about these topics. Krish@post.harvard.edu
Diversity is mission critical to Harvard. Indeed the evidence to this is stated directly in the Mission of Harvard College itself.
“The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society.”
“Through a diverse living environment, where students live with people who are studying different topics, who come from different walks of life and have evolving identities, intellectual transformation is deepened and conditions for social transformation are created.”
There are four main strategies that we should pursue: defense of inclusive admissions policies, hiring and promotion, education and expanded access through capital investment.
It’s important to stand steadfast in defense of policies that allow admission to consider diverse backgrounds. Harvard students will be poorer if we do not seek out as varied a tapestry of different topics, walks of life and evolving identities as possible.
Hiring, promoting and supporting University leadership that values and embodies diversity
As a community we need to foster an environment where students and alumni can have discussions with people who come from a different background. We do this through the milieu we create, but pedagogically we should begin teaching how to have these conversations.
Under the Bok administration, the University aggressively sought funds to be earmarked for financial aid with the intention of expanding access. A renewed Capital campaign and financial commitment that seeks to broaden and open doors to those with new and different backgrounds.
2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.)
Harvard can and should ask. There exceptional alumni who would be willing to serve and help. These alumni represent the broad diversity that is Harvard. If Harvard values diversity, these individuals should be asked to lead alumni activities. HAA typically hosts three meetings annually in Boston, which makes broad democratic participation a challenge. Those who don’t live on the East Coast, or have flexible jobs with greater financial resources see barriers to participation. It is incumbent then on HAA to advocate representation from a wide swath of student groups, alumni groups and geographical representation to the HAA Board. I hope that alumni leadership can exist in every locale, cultural group, student group or activity
It is also the responsibility of HAA Board members to advocate this expansive representation to Board of Overseers and importantly the Corporation as well.
Harvard should engage in deep, meaningful and ongoing conversations with the groups that organized this survey, and others as well. Decisions like the Presidency and social group sanctions should not come as a surprise to this body. Rather, decisions should be made with your input
3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.
Racial diversity at Harvard is a gift. We must preserve it. Harvard should vociferously defend the value of racial diversity, and diversity of all types even in, and especially during federal investigation.
I support a race-conscious admissions policy. I also support aggressively pursuing a diverse class with respect to culture, gender identity, sexual identity, economic background, geography and interests.
4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society?
There are so many ways Harvard can work towards a more equitable, inclusive and just society, however three broad categories include:
Fostering the Intellectual Foundations- As an academic institution, it is imperative that Harvard continue to fund, promote, acknowledge and honor academic work that questions inequity, and promotes a just society. Truly any academic discipline and investigation can be driven in the direction of justice. If incentivized, knowledge from all fields can be utilized to improve the lives of the most marginalized. As an institution, we must reward and honor this work as important scholarly contribution.
Developing Programs and Leaders- Harvard has always produced leaders. This begins with admissions and recruitment. It also permeates programming that helps students transition into leaders who advocate for, fight for, and work towards a more equitable, inclusive and just society. We must invest in the student groups, student life resources and novel programming that teach leaders how to be advocates for justice.
Modeling- Harvard has a platform and a sounding board like few other institutions. Once intellectual content and programs promoting equity are established, Harvard should proudly share its findings with other academic (and non-academic) institutions.
5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with?
Addressing and combating health and educational disparities is central to my professional life.
Our daily clinical work is about providing access and care to all and in particular to those who have no other access to health care. This also requires working systemically to advocate for increased access to healthcare, education and the resources necessary to keep kids healthy.
While a medical student, I helped to started a course on Native American and Rural Health Disparities. News media has highlighted the underfunding of the VA system and yet we rarely hear about the chronic underfunding at Indian Health Services. Working to address this inequity is an important aspect of our work.
My colleague and I recently wrote a textbook about using medical practice as a means to addressing inequities that exist in the health system. It is entitled: Global Child Health: A Toolkit to Address Health Disparities.
I have the privilege of serving on a Medical School Admissions committee. Both our secondary application process as well as interviews emphasizes not only what diversity an individual brings to a class but also how they have learned from the diversity around them. These are qualities and sentiments we value deeply with every candidate who will provide care for our diverse community.