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Harvard Overseers Election

Candidate Questionnaire Responses

March 2017


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.)  

    Teaching, scholarship and research are among the core missions of Harvard.  In my view, it’s hard to understand how we can effectively pursue such goals without having a broad diversity of people, backgrounds and experiences reflected in our students, faculties and University leadership.  I see having a diverse environment as being an integral part of the learning experience for students and an indispensable building block for making students feel welcome at Harvard.  I believe that our faculties and school leadership can only be strengthened by diversity in those ranks.

    For 25 years, I’ve been an alumni interviewer for the Harvard College admissions office, and one of the most frequent questions I get from high school students is “What did you like the most about being at Harvard?”  I tell them that the answer for me is easy – “I’ve never experienced a more diverse environment than during my years at Harvard.”  Some of the most significant lessons I learned there came from my friends and fellow students rather than the classroom.  In my very close three-person rooming group at Harvard College, one of my roommates was gay, and both of them came from backgrounds profoundly different from mine.  My Harvard education was enormously and uniquely enriched by the diversity I encountered there, a point that has always stayed with me.

    I don’t believe that there should be a single strategy that the University pursues to promote diversity.  Instead, I think that diversity should be a principle that informs a wide variety of University programs, such as an outreach to the broadest range of potential students and faculty, improving advising and mentorship to level the playing field and give students (particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds) a better chance to succeed, offering coursework and opportunities for scholarship in academic fields of relevance and interest to diverse communities.  One area of particular interest to me is making sure that cost is not a barrier for anyone attending a Harvard school.  My giving to Harvard College and Harvard Law School has focused exclusively on strengthening financial aid for undergraduates and law students.  As an Overseer, I would view financial aid as one of the most important components for creating a diverse student body.

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.)

In my experience, it takes a long-term and sustained emphasis on diversity in order to see an organization with diverse leadership and activities.  For Harvard and our alumni organizations, it means that we must continue to focus on our alumni leadership pipeline and programming.

I’ve had a long and deep commitment to Harvard and our alumni.  I served as President of the Harvard Club of Chicago, an Elected Director of the HAA board and, most recently, the President of the HAA.  Along the way, I’ve promoted diversity in our alumni engagement efforts and programming and worked to develop diverse alumni for future leadership roles.  

As an example of this, in 2008, when I became President of the Harvard Club of Chicago, I came back from an alumni leadership conference in Cambridge and learned about the growth of Shared Interest Groups.  Our SIGs were growing rapidly at the time, in marked contrast to the relatively flat (or declining) membership numbers for the Harvard Clubs.  As the alumni leader in Chicago, I wanted to partner with these new SIGs, but there was no easy way to contact them.  I literally emailed or called the presidents of each of the 20 or so SIGs and asked for opportunities to do joint programming or events.  The two best organized SIG’s at the time were the Harvard Gay Lesbian Caucus (now the Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus) and the Harvard Black Alumni Society.  I promoted joint programming and events with these two SIGs in particular in areas such as early college awareness (aimed at middle schoolers in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods) and community service projects throughout the Chicago area.  It was a wonderful way to engage with diverse alumni who were otherwise not interested in belonging to the Harvard Club.    

As HAA President, one of my goals was to broaden our alumni engagement to include alumni who have not been as involved with Harvard.  That included a better outreach to our graduate school students and alumni and also to our younger alumni, but we also focused on paying attention to the diversity of our alumni leadership ranks and studying whether our programming was attracting our diverse alumni.  

Finally, in my alumni leadership roles, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on nominating committees or to be involved in the selection of members for nominating committees.  One of the key criteria I’ve employed in these roles is the consideration of diversity for alumni selected for leadership positions and also for the composition of the committees which would make such recommendations.

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.

    In response to the first question, I discussed my views on the importance of diversity at Harvard and how my education was enriched at Harvard as a result.  Professionally, I’m a partner and a leader in an international law firm, and I’ve advised numerous successful companies around the world.  My observation is that organizations are stronger, more innovative and better places to work when their workplaces are diverse.  I’m convinced that for Harvard to pursue its educational mission, it must seek the most promising and most diverse students.  Consideration of race and ethnicity should be part of an admissions process that seeks to bring that diversity to Harvard.  If diversity in our students is to be valued, that simply seems to me to be a logical corollary to that.  I also think diversity needs to encompass factors beyond race and ethnicity.  Admissions should take a broad view of diversity and consider a range of factors in the make-up of a class of students that will enrich the learning experience for everyone.  That includes a consideration of factors such as gender, socio-economic background, geographic (particularly non-US) diversity, different academic, artistic and extracurricular interests, religious and political diversity, etc.  

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society?

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana likes to say that the mission of Harvard College is to educate “citizen leaders.”  As President of the HAA, I had the privilege of meeting with alumni in Latin America, Europe, Asia and throughout the US.  Many of our alumni do indeed occupy positions of leadership and influence in business, government, the arts and academia.  Our alumni are also amazingly generous with their time and resources, volunteering and supporting community organizations, non-profits and other institutions which serve the public interest.  If we take seriously the notion that Harvard is educating leaders, then there is a tremendous opportunity for our University, through its educational mission, to promote the values of justice and inclusion. I believe that starts with a continued commitment to a liberal arts curriculum that fosters critical thinking and expression and a diverse learning environment (as described above).  

As a world class research institution, Harvard can also play an important role in understanding and exposing historical and present day injustices and inequality.  Scholarship in these areas provides an important public service in drawing attention to, and helping to combat, such wrongs.  Using economic analysis to understand poverty, studying law to fight discrimination, understanding public health issues as economic and security issues as well as being medical concerns – these are all areas where I have seen Harvard faculty use their academic work to promote a more just society.  

Many of our Harvard schools also provide direct opportunities for students and faculty members to advance justice.  For example, Harvard College, through its Phillips Brooks House programs, offers dozens of volunteer services to the Cambridge and Boston communities.  Harvard Law School supports wonderful clinics and programs which enable law students to represent often indigent individuals gravely in need of legal services.  As an undergraduate, I was a volunteer with Project Hand, which served Cambridge schools with after-school activities.  These are all the type of activities which merit the continued support of the University.  


5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with?

As noted earlier, I’m a partner and leader in an international law firm.  For nearly 20 years, I’ve been a member of my firm’s diversity committee in our Chicago office (which is our largest office, with about 500 lawyers).  Our committee is focused on recruiting, retaining and advancing minority and LGBTQ lawyers at our firm.  We do this through an active outreach to key student organizations at the law schools where we recruit.  For years, I’ve hosted lunches with minority law students and lawyers to provide coaching and mentoring.  Our diversity committee organizes mentors for our young diverse lawyers when they start at our firm and then monitors the progress of these lawyers.  We study attrition rates among our diverse lawyers to understand what we can do better.  We meet with our firm’s compensation and evaluation committee to get an advance warning on diverse lawyers who may be struggling, and we discuss what efforts can be made to help such persons succeed at our firm.  I’m proud of the commitment that we’ve made, and the importance that we place, in promoting a diverse and inclusive place to work.

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar AB ’93 magna cum laude


Justice, Supreme Court of California  San Francisco


March 17, 2017


Coalition for a Diverse Harvard

c/o Michael Williams

By email:    


Dear Michael --


Thank you for your interest in my views and my nomination.  Although my current position requires me to refrain from discussing matters that are before me or may come before me, I am pleased to share information about my background and experience, as well as some reflections on the issues of inclusion and diversity referenced in the thoughtful questions circulated by the coalition.  


I was born in the northern Mexican city of Matamoros, and spent much of my early life living in close proximity to the border dividing Mexico and the United States.  I attended high school in Calexico, California, in the Imperial Valley, where approximately 70 percent of my classmates were limited-English speakers.  I became a United States citizen in 1994, during my first year in law school.


Throughout my career in public service and education, I have been deeply interested in civil rights and inclusion, because I believe our commitment to these ideals can help build a more just, equitable, creative, and productive society.  Currently, I serve on the highest court in California, which has the largest judicial system in the United States. Because access to justice is a major priority for me, I also serve as chair of the California Judiciary's Implementation Task Force on Language Access. The task force works to ensure that California's courts are responsive to the needs of the roughly 7 million Californians who are limited-English proficient and together speak more than 210 different languages.  Among other efforts, the task force is currently focused on working with trial courts to ensure the availability of interpreters to all those who need them in civil proceedings (criminal proceedings are already covered), promoting the availability of multi-lingual assistance and forms for limited English speakers requiring services outside the courtroom, and developing a statewide complaint system for issues involving language access in our courts.  Before I joined the court, as a professor and university administrator, I sought to recruit, retain, and support a diverse and inclusive staff, to ensure (through mentorship, teaching, and support for student organizations) that Stanford was supportive of students from all backgrounds, and to strengthen Stanford's commitment to understanding and alleviating global poverty.


Earlier, while serving as Special Assistant to the President at the White House in 2009 and 2010, I worked on enacting the Fair Sentencing Act, which drastically reduced the disparity in federal sentences for offenses involving powder cocaine versus crack cocaine. I also worked to repeal the military's Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy, to increase the budget of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to set up the Obama administration's National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, and to expand refugee resettlement.  After I left the White House, I co-chaired the 27-member congressionally-chartered National Equity and Excellence Commission for the U.S. Department of Education. The Commission delivered a unanimous report to the Secretary recommending universal means-tested preschool, additional support for English-language learners, and changes in school finance to close the achievement gap.  Many of the ideas in the report were incorporated into the Every Student Succeeds Act, enacted in 2015.


I believe institutions like Harvard have a responsibility to treat matters of equity and inclusion with the utmost concern.  I arrived at Harvard from a small town in rural Southern California on the border with Mexico and found opportunities beyond anything I could have imagined. Much the same is true for my wife Lucy Koh, who came to Harvard for college and law school after growing up in Oklahoma and Mississippi and attending a nearly entirely African American rural public elementary school.  I am grateful for the opportunities we both found at Harvard but also keen to help the university move even closer to realizing its ideals.  If I have the chance to serve on the Board of Overseers, I would especially look forward to working with others to ensure that people from all walks of life can be part of, thrive in, and benefit from Harvard. 


Harvard’s contributions to society –– including to the ideal of forging a more equitable, inclusive, and just society –– depend ultimately on the university’s capacity to contribute in unique ways to teaching, learning, and research.  That capacity, in turn, is enormously affected by Harvard’s ability to achieve inclusion and full engagement with a diverse public, student body, faculty, and alumni population.  Harvard should remain strongly committed to diversity as well as excellence in its admissions and recruitment of students, and its recruitment of faculty and staff.  It should continue exploring ways to ensure that no prospective student admitted to Harvard is barred from attending Harvard because of a lack of financial resources, whether they live in Mississippi or Malaysia.  It should strongly support diverse groups of students, faculty, and alumni so they can contribute to the university’s distinctive artistic and intellectual ecosystem, and they can remain engaged with the many challenges the world faces beyond Harvard Yard’s ivy-covered walls.  By routinely communicating with and encouraging engagement from Harvard's remarkable and diverse alumni population throughout the United States and the world, university leaders can glean valuable insights and help Harvard adapt to a changing world while it remains true to its mission of advancing knowledge for the world's benefit.  


Thank you again for your engagement with Harvard and for your interest in my nomination. 




Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
Darienne B. Driver EdM ’06, EdD ’14
Superintendent of Schools, Milwaukee Public School


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.)  


If Harvard is to develop true citizens and citizen leaders, diversity and inclusivity must be the top priority and we must allocate substantial time and resources to ensuring that diverse students are recruited, retained and graduate successfully. Our country and world are ever-changing and we operate at our best when all communities have representation and voice in building and improving our world. Harvard is recognized as a leader in post-secondary education and the decisions we make around prioritizing diversity not only impact the experience and trajectory of our students and alumni, they set the standard across nationally and internationally. There have been substantial improvements in financially supporting students from all backgrounds. The Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion supports marginalized students with programming and resources while on campus. Still, there is much work to be done at Harvard. As a Black student who was on the yard between 2005 and 2007, I truly believe there is a strong need for us to graduate successfully and to have an experience that’s reflective of who we are as a people. Harvard should prioritize improving diversity and inclusiveness in recruitment, retention, and hiring.

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.)


It is my experience that alumni from different demographic groups want to see more diversity in the faculty, staff and student population at Harvard. Seeing the increase in diversity and in the inclusion of those groups gives us a reason to be engaged. Involving alumni of color and those from diverse backgrounds can’t be about hosting a one-time event or activity, it has to be daily practice and a true shift in business as usual. Inclusion means changing culture. Unfortunately, Boston is a city known for its racial challenges. Harvard should be a place to help students mitigate those challenges, not a place that confirms them. For many alumni of color, their negative experiences contribute to disengagement in alumni hood. In order to facilitate more engagement from diverse alumni, Harvard should work to understand and integrate lessons learned from the experiences of all alumni. It’s essential to learn from and integrate the voice of historically underrepresented alumni when seeking to diversify activities and improve the engagement of alumni of color.  


3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.


Despite affirmative action policies being in place for decades in the United States, there are still glaring disparities in post-secondary educational recruitment and outcomes. Unfortunately, affirmative action and race-conscious admissions are necessary to ensure that all of our communities are adequately understood by and represented in higher education. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion on campus benefits all students and staff and cultivates a more innovative and dynamic experience for the entire campus. It’s also critical in race-conscious admissions to consider the complexity of identities. For example, Harvard admits 13.7% African American students, but it’s important to consider nationalities, class, generation and other nuances when ensuring that Black students are admitted from all lived experiences. This same nuance ought to be considered when examining admissions decisions for all communities. Affirmative action and a general race-consciousness can’t stop with admissions. Race-conscious considerations need to be made with respect to course offerings, advising students, offering robust and diverse activities, and the creating a positive and inclusive experience for all students. All students should feel like the Harvard experience is for them from recruitment through alumni hood.

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society?


As a public school superintendent, I’ve always believed that if societal progress is to be made in the areas of equity, inclusivity and access, it must begin in a strong educational system.

As a world leader in education, Harvard should play a prominent and intentional role in creating and modeling an equitable and inclusive society. Harvard’s recruitment process should model for colleges and institutions across the world the power that prioritizing diversity and inclusiveness has in cultivating solutions to the world’s most complex adaptive challenges. While on campus, Harvard students should be encouraged to examine all facets of their education through a lens of asking questions and incorporating multiple perspectives. Regardless of area of study, they should be required to engage in courses and experiences that bring them to understand the complex history of race, class and inequity in our country and world. Our faculty should be encouraged to conduct research that solves problems that promote life improvements for all people in ways that validate many ways of thinking and knowing. They should also be trained in culturally responsive teaching practices that facilitate dynamic, highly rigorous learning environments supportive and inclusive of all students. Harvard should be a space where diverse thinkers converge to create innovative and equitable solutions to the challenges we face in the United States and around the world.

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with?


In order to bring diversity and inclusion, you must prioritize policies, strategies and structures that promote positive and urgent change. As proud superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, this work is my top priority. Last year, I brought our team to Harvard to participate in the Public Education Leadership Program (PELP). While there, we identified and began working on an equity-centered problem of practice: Milwaukee Public Schools has neither consistently nor effectively engaged all of our students of color in an environment conducive to learning; thus, there are opportunity gaps that perpetuate low student achievement.   ​


Since that time, we’ve taken a number of steps to further progress equity and inclusion work in Milwaukee Public Schools. We’ve established an equity commission to analyze district-wide decision making, educational and operational practices, and resource allocation through the lens of equity. We launched MPS CARES, a comprehensive community support program that creates late night and weekend programming and supports because we recognize that safe and productive out-of-school spaces are an essential component of educating the whole child. In Milwaukee, access to a driver’s license has proved to be a major barrier for many young people in mobility as well as access to employment and housing. To remedy the drastic racial and socioeconomic gaps in access, we piloted MPS Drives, a universal driver education program for all our high school students. By analyzing access to arts, music, athletics and extracurricular activities, we found gaping inequities in our offerings and have worked to increase programming access for all students.


We’re using telepresence technology to expand Advanced Placement opportunities to students across the district in an environment where budget and teacher shortages have historically created unequal access to programming. We are now in a place where every high school has at least five AP courses for students to choose from, resulting in a 40% increase in student AP participation in just three years. And because we know that 100% of our students deserve access to college-level coursework, we rewrote our graduation requirements so that all students are required to take an AP course before graduation.

We’ve added gender inclusion language to our policies and procedures and are strengthening supports of students who have recently immigrated to the United States. We are days away from passing a resolution that confirms Milwaukee Public Schools as a safe-haven district, strengthening protections and supports for students and their families who have recently immigrated and/or are undocumented. We know that students benefit from being taught by educators they share identities with, so we’ve prioritized the recruitment and retention of educators that share the racial and ethnic backgrounds of our young people. True inclusion is about understanding and integrating voice. I’ve instituted teacher, student, principal and family advisory groups to learn about what works and what we need to change. In Milwaukee Public Schools, equity is truly about constant analysis and direct, resource-backed intervention where and when we discover inequities in our policies and practices

Darienne B. Driver
Carla Harris AB ’84 magna cum laude, MBA ’87
Vice Chair of Wealth Management and Managing Director, Morgan Stanley    NY


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 believe that diversity is imperative at Harvard. The institution is known as one of the premier institutions in the world and the only way to maintain that standing over time is to have the best ideas and the best minds in the world as a part of the University leadership, as a part of the faculty and a part of the student body. Harvard, like most institutions, is competing on innovation. I cannot think of one institution that is not in some way competing around innovation. If innovation is the dominant competitive parameter then you need lots of ideas present because innovation is born from ideas. If you need a lot of ideas, then you have to have a lot of perspectives because ideas are born from perspectives. If you need a lot of perspectives, then you need a lot of experiences because experiences are born from perspectives and if you need a lot of experiences, you must have a lot of different people present.  Thus, you must start with a LOT of diverse people in order to innovate and LEAD.


Harvard should continue to develop and implement policies that will ensure that each incoming class is racially, ethnically and gender diverse and should continuously monitor the curriculum and teaching methods to insure that inclusive learning and conversations are occurring in the teaching and learning process. Lastly, the University should somehow ensure that there are fair and equitable opportunities for diverse student leadership on campus and campus governance.

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.) 

I believe that Harvard can encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders by making specific outreach to diverse leaders to lead alumni activities in specific geographies and providing the support needed to execute effectively. The University should also ask them to make a targeted effort to engage their personal diverse Harvard networks to be as inclusive as possible in the activity.

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. 

I am very in favor of race conscious admissions in order to insure a racially, ethnically and gender diverse class which is one of the major contributors to an exceptional learning experience at Harvard. I feel strongly that a diverse class adds to the pedagogy that is distributed by professors and classroom learning. I do not feel that there are any institutions, corporate, academic, or philanthropic that are mature enough for diversity to happen on its own and therefore must be deliberately administered, curated, and monitored to ensure efficacy.

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society? 

As Harvard is a leader in many things, I believe that Harvard should be a leader in exhibiting, equitable and inclusive leadership in its corporate, academic, and governance capacities and in assembling a diverse student body. The University must take extraordinary measures to ensure that it is soliciting the diverse voices of its constituencies and assembling decision making teams that demonstrate inclusiveness.

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with? 

As a person who is diverse in race and gender, I have sought to bring diversity to my workplace by volunteering or positioning myself for decision making roles (i.e., recruiting, operational and hiring roles) that would impact professionals entering the firm or in specific departments. I have taken an active role as a mentor or sponsor in many diverse candidates’ careers not only within my firm, but at other firms on Wall Street for decades. I have also been involved, at one time, in 8 non-profit boards and have ensured that board candidates or slates of c-suite candidates were diverse and that a fair process was deployed in choosing leaders or board members in each of these organizations.


Carla Harris
Lane MacDonald
Lane MacDonald AB ’88 cum laude
President, FMR Diversified Investments    Boston


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.)  

Diversity should be extremely important at Harvard just as it should be in all parts of society.  In terms of strategies, I feel that I need to better understand what Harvard is doing – and where there may be gaps in Harvard’s support of diversity.  However, the fundamental strategy should be one that creates equality and equal access for all members of the Harvard community regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs, etc. 

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.) 

Once again, I feel one must first know what Harvard is currently doing to better understand what should be done.  That being said, I am a strong believer that one needs to lead by example so Harvard’s leaders should be demonstrating support for all parts of the Harvard community. 

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. 

Based on what I have seen and read, I believe that Harvard has done a good job historically on this subject with the goal of having a diverse student body that is an important underpinning of the educational experience.  I am generally in support of Harvard’s current admissions policy with a stated focus on diversity – not just in terms of race but in terms of other factors such as geography, social class and even life experiences.     

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society? 

As a global leader in higher education, Harvard has the responsibility to lead by example in creating an equitable and just environment at Harvard.  Harvard also has the opportunity to participate in and even lead the debate on these issues whether that is via programs on campus, visiting speakers, professors engaging on these issues, or Harvard leaders such as President Faust addressing specific issues.   

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with?

As stated previously, I believe diversity and inclusion should be a fundamental underpinning of everything in our society – and that is true in every organization and business.  I have done my best to follow these principles with the organizations that I have supported, the companies for which I have worked, and most importantly, in how I live my life.

Elizabeth D. Samet AB ’91 magna cum laude
Professor of English, U.S. Military Academy   West Point, New York


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.)  


Diversity is vital to the health of institutions in the twenty-first century. Its role in higher education is of paramount importance. As a teacher, I see on a daily basis the value of diverse voices and perspectives represented in the curriculum and in the classroom. A breadth of perspectives strengthens individuals and institutions by alerting them to their blind spots and forcing them to reckon with divergent, even contradictory, worldviews.

As a scholar of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature and culture, I have thought deeply not only about the extent to which our country has serially reinvented itself but also about the historical legacies of slavery and westward expansion. I am keenly aware of the lingering impact of those legacies on our understanding of race and diversity in the United States.

As a result, I believe the University should continue to foster diversity and to practice inclusion. The enduring success of these endeavors demands commitments not only to admissions policies but also to the practices, programs, and services that combine to create the Harvard experience. Diversity at all levels, from students to staff and faculty, can also be encouraged through initiatives with long time horizons and engagement with the global community of Harvard alumni.

2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.) 


Please see answers to questions 1 and 4.

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. 


For all the reasons I have outlined above, I am a proponent of affirmative action and other race-conscious admissions policies serving historically underrepresented groups.

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society? 

As a national and global influencer, Harvard can play an active, effective role by forging future leaders who value equity, inclusion, and social justice. The reach of an educational institution is as long as that of its graduates, who can continue throughout careers in a broad range of fields to promote these values through their consistent community engagement. The University, in turn, can look for new, innovative ways to partner with alumni.

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with? 


As a civilian faculty member at the United States Military Academy, I work in an institution that has long been committed to geographic diversity but that for much of its history had a student body that was in almost every other way largely homogenous. Similarly, the work of preparing those students was performed by a fairly homogenous staff and faculty. However, over the last several years, the army has become increasingly inclusive of groups whose service it once limited or barred: people of color; women; lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans; and as of 2016, transgender soldiers. This process has enriched the institution in many ways, and I regard the army’s increasingly inclusive policies as a fulfillment of the constitutional principles that West Point’s graduates have defended over the centuries.

Of course policies must be translated into deep cultural changes, and that project requires sustained attention. Like some institutions, but to a greater degree than many, mine is deeply invested in tradition and uniformity. Essential to the process of institutional change is the recognition of which traditions promote inclusion and which are the relics of a different historical moment. As the co-chair of a recent study group commissioned by our Dean, I helped make the case that the institution can best meet the challenges of the twenty-first century by examining plans, programs, and policies with an eye to that distinction and by encouraging the broad array of talents as well as the wide-ranging perspectives and capacities of its increasingly diverse community. In the context of various committees and initiatives, including an army task force on leader development, as well as in the classroom, I have worked to set the conditions necessary for graduating officers characterized by agility, imagination, and empathy.


These opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of West Point, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Elizabeth D. Samet
Craig R. Stapleton AB ’67 magna cum laude, MBA ’70
Senior Advisor, Stone Point Capital                  Greenwich, Connecticut


1.How important should diversity be at Harvard? What strategies should the University pursue regarding this?

Diversity has been a key component at Harvard.  The University should continue to recruit a diverse student body.


2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.)

Harvard should ( and I think does) emphasize diversity in all its selection processes.

3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. 

I am a firm supporter of affirmative action at Harvard, and have recruited for a diverse student body at Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society?

I think Harvard should strive in recruitment, selection, advancement, and placement to emphasize diversity.

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with? 
In the business, non-profits and government positions I have held I have always looked for diversity, not only for its own sake, but to build teams with vision and drive.

Craig R. Stapleton
Leslie P. Tolbert
Leslie P. Tolbert AB ’73 cum laude, PhD ’78
Regents’ Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Arizona     Tucson

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on issues relating to enhancing diversity at Harvard.
Diversity isn’t just important; it’s essential.  Among the many reasons:
·        People of all stripes deserve the same opportunities.  Fairness of access is an absolute requirement for all aspects of a just society.  And fair access to all that Harvard has to offer is important because of Harvard’s high visibility and impact. 
·        Diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is critically important to useful – informed, representative – discussion of issues.  In particular, one of the most exciting and important aspects of Harvard is its special position as a national and international crossroads for expression of thoughtful opinions on key issues. 
With its unique and highly visible place in higher education, Harvard has an opportunity to play a leadership role in creating an academic community whose make-up reflects the diversity of society.
Achieving fair and open access and discussion does not just happen by itself; it requires a constantly vigilant eye toward inclusion – toward welcoming diversity in the admissions process, hiring and promotion, selection of topics and speakers for campus discussions, selection of academic areas for special investment, etc. 
Regarding admissions, I believe that we must work actively against unconscious bias, rather than just hoping that others agree that we should open doors to all who show unusual academic promise.  Although I wish we could do that by simply deciding to be blind to race, religion, and gender in our assessments of candidates for admission, if we want to establish a fully inclusive student body, then first, we have to work hard to solicit it as well as to nurture it.  Reaching out to under-represented groups is an important first step.  Providing targeted scholarships is another. 
I have been a faculty member at the University of Arizona since 1987, and served as the university’s Vice President for Research for eight years (2005-2013).  In both roles, I have put special effort into broadening participation and success, at the student, faculty, and staff level.  For instance, as a faculty scientist, I have always very purposely invited and hosted a diverse set of students (with different ethnic/religious/national backgrounds and including many first-generation college-goers) to work in my research group, and I have served as a formal mentor to students enrolled in local and national diversity-related programs such as the MARC program (Maximizing Access to Research Careers program of the National Institutes of Health) and WAESO (the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities).  As vice president, I was the principal investigator of a project funded by the ADVANCE program of the National Science Foundation.  Our project, entitled “Eradicating Subtle Discrimination,” developed mechanisms to raise awareness of the pervasive unconscious negative bias faced by women faculty (and especially women of color), and to enhance their success by reducing that bias in hiring, promotion, and retention.  We developed multiple interventions through the Research Office that I led, through Human Resources, and within the various colleges, to give diverse early-stage faculty more visibility, training in the art of negotiation, mentorship by senior women and men, and other tools for success.
Outside of my life in the university, I am a regular reading tutor for students in one of Tucson’s low-income public elementary schools, and I lead an effort to bring more art and music to low-SES schools in town, from elementary- to high-school level, as a way of expanding the horizons of our young people in all corners of the city.
With kind regards,

Leslie Tolbert, candidate for Board of Overseers


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