Harvard Overseers Election

Candidate Questionnaire Responses

March 2016

 
Candidates Nominated by the Harvard Alumni Association (eight)
 
P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale AB '74 magna cum laude
Associate Provost for Faculty and Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
 
 
 

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

 

I believe that student diversity at Harvard should be one of the university’s highest priorities. We are in the midst of a “diversity explosion,” the title of a recent book by demographer, William Frey, who outlines how dramatically the population of the United States is changing and what we can expect in terms of the new “minority-majority” in the next 50 years. I find these statistics to be exciting. Harvard should lead the way in fostering a student body that is —at a minimum— representative of our nation’s population in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, and other important demographic characteristics. Expanding student diversity represents the goals of social justice and equity. In addition, student diversity represents the goal of excellence. Various fields of inquiry have demonstrated that diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand. Diverse groups and diverse teams are more innovative, productive, creative, and effective than homogeneous groups and teams.  

 

Increasing the numbers of students from underrepresented or marginalized groups should not be the only goal for Harvard. It is equally important to create an inclusive environment where students feel welcomed, engaged, challenged, and able to reach their full potential. 

 

Numerous strategies should be pursued to attain these twin goals. These include: (1) intentionality in the admissions process to reach out to a more diverse applicant pool and to select diverse entering classes for undergraduate and graduate programs; (2) financial aid packages that are attuned to the complex economic pressures facing many students; (3) effective combinations of programs that foster the academic success of students from varying backgrounds, including mentoring, advising, bridge programs, peer supports and the like; (4) expansion of diversity among faculty, staff, and administrators who not only serve as key role models, instructors and advisors, but who also represent and validate the importance of diverse and inclusive communities; (5) provision of workshops, seminars, and in-depth training for faculty to provide them with tools and skills —large and small— that enable them to foster the success of students from underrepresented minorities, LGBT students, first-generation, Pell-eligible and other students facing economic hardship, students with disabilities, as well as women who are interested in pursuing STEM fields.

  

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I am in favor of affirmative action. As I discussed above, this is translated into intentionality by Harvard in recruiting and selecting a diverse student body. As Associate Provost for Faculty at Northwestern University, I am currently leading a group of experts to update the affirmative action guidelines for hiring faculty and staff at my university. I would be interested in learning more about Harvard’s affirmative action guidelines and activities, --specifically policies, processes, and mechanisms for ensuring that Harvard is an EEOA employer. Clearly defined processes for recruiting diverse faculty and staff are essential, combined with extensive data on applicant pools and ultimate hires. Search committee training on procedures that can counteract unconscious bias and that promote more effective efforts to recruit diverse candidates are also key elements of affirmative action. Creating a diverse and inclusive community of faculty and staff is essential for promoting the success of a diverse student body. As stated above, the expansion of diversity among faculty, staff, and administrators is critical, and this leads to more authentic experiences for students as they view faculty and staff as key role models who themselves validate diversity.

 

 3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2). 

 

I believe that college admissions should be race-conscious as described in my statement above. I would note that Harvard has made progress in terms of undergraduate admissions, where of the class of 2019, 11.6% are African-American, 21.1% are Asian-Amerian, 13% are Hispanic or Latino, and 1.5% are Native American or Pacific Islander. This is not the case in a number of graduate or professional programs and schools. Given the diversity explosion that is predicted in the upcoming decades, further progress is essential.

 

 4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created. 

 

I am a social scientist, and I believe in the transformational power of data, information, and communication. I agree that Harvard could be more transparent about its admissions process. In addition, I would be interested in learning how Harvard’s leadership communicates to faculty, students, staff, and alums about the various initiatives that are underway to promote an inclusive university community where students from all backgrounds can thrive.

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in? 

 

Promoting diversity and excellence in my organization and my fields of expertise has been a top priority for me throughout my career.

 

I am a first-generation college student, and I will be forever grateful to my parents for the enormous sacrifices that they made in order for me to attend Harvard. In addition, I remember well the challenges that came with navigating this exciting, new environment.

 

I was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for the first 10 years of my career (the first developmental psychologist to be tenured in the Harris School of Public Policy), and I am now in my 17th year as a professor at Northwestern University (School of Education and Social Policy and a Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research). Since 2013, I have served as Associate Provost for Faculty at Northwestern, and I am the first woman to fill this role.  My research and teaching focus on family strengths as well as programs and policies that promote the short- and long-term success of children and families facing economic hardship, many of whom are African American and Latino. As a professor, I am dedicated to mentoring students of color at all levels — undergraduate through postdoctoral students. I also am committed to serving on mentoring committees for assistant professors of color. In 2011, I received a large grant award in recognition of my leadership along these lines to expand my mentoring of students of color, and I have a strong record of numerous successful students.

 

As Associate Provost for Faculty, I focus on fostering the excellence of Northwestern’s faculty. Three of my top goals are to increase the diversity of Northwestern University’s faculty, to strengthen the inclusiveness of our academic community, and to enhance faculty abilities to promote the success of students who are underrepresented minorities, first-generation, low-income, LGBT, experiencing disabilities, or marginalized in other ways. Examples of my activities: (1) I co-chaired the successful national search for Northwestern’s inaugural Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion; (2) I shepherded the establishment of a new university-wide research center at Northwestern, the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing; (3) I am co-leading a faculty advisory group designed to develop new initiatives to increase and celebrate diversity and inclusion among Northwestern’s faculty; (4) I am also overseeing a salary equity study to examine the role of gender in faculty salaries at Northwestern; (5) I co-chair the Chicago Collaboration for Women in STEM, an organization designed to promote the career success of women faculty and scientists in STEM fields; (6) I am in charge of a program called the Public Voices Fellowship whose goal is to increase the representation of women faculty and faculty of color in the media; (7) I oversee several leadership programs that highlight women faculty and faculty of color; and (8) I am launching an initiative to provide faculty with seminars and workshops and other opportunities so that they become more expert in the effective teaching of diverse students.

 

Helena Buonanno Foulkes AB '86 magna cum laude, MBA '92

 

President, CVS/pharmacy; Executive Vice President, CVS Health, Providence, RI

 

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

 

Diversity must be embraced and reflected at Harvard, because it is essential to creating an environment where learning, creativity, and innovation can thrive.

Diversity challenges old assumptions and inspires new ideas. It also helps to reveal complexities that can be missed when an issue is viewed from only one perspective. Diversity is therefore a great antidote to lazy or automatic thinking, and benefits students and instructors alike.

Experiencing diversity on campus is also terrific preparation for what students will face once they graduate. They will be entering a very diverse workforce, and employers, engaged in a fierce competition for global talent, increasingly are looking for flexible and innovative thinkers who are not afraid to challenge the status quo.

 

For these reasons and many more, Harvard should make every effort to cultivate diversity in all its forms, including taking students’ diverse backgrounds into account during the admissions process, as well as encouraging a free exchange of points of view on campus.  

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I believe the intent of affirmative action, as it applies to educational institutions, is to provide equitable access to higher learning for historically under-represented groups. It has enabled institutions like Harvard to make tremendous progress toward that goal, but there is more progress to be made.

Affirmative action remains an important tool for mitigating environmental, cultural and institutional barriers to access and opportunity, and it would be a mistake for Harvard to deprive itself of that tool.

 

3.    Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2). 

 

When considering applicants to Harvard, it is not only appropriate but necessary to take race into consideration, along with other forms of diversity that can benefit all students—including ethnic diversity, religious diversity, cultural diversity, and diversity of gender, sexual orientation, talent, socioeconomic backgrounds, and place of origin, among many others.

 

4.   Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created. 

 

It is important to balance societal calls for transparency against the need of institutions like Harvard to conduct sensitive deliberations in confidence.

While there are legitimate reasons to expect academic institutions to be transparent about their college-admissions process and strategies—including disclosing the criteria they use—it would be counterproductive to conduct the selection process in public, or to publicly disclose the details of internal debates and discussions. Selecting students for admission is not a mechanical or mathematical process; it involves the consideration of many important factors, and disagreements are inevitable. Those involved in the process, including prospective students, should feel confident that their privacy will be respected, and that confidence could be undermined if Harvard were to disclose how its mix of students is created.  

 

5.  What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in? 

 

As a woman in business, I have felt firsthand the power of embracing diversity.

 

CVS Health recognizes that embracing diversity and inclusion is good for business, helps attract and retain talent, and enables us to fulfill our purpose of helping all people on their path to better health.

 

I am proud to be a member of the CVS Health Diversity Management Steering Committee. We have been recognized by many national organizations for our commitment to diversity, including recently being named to DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies, and receiving a score of 100 percent for the second year in a row on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

 

For the past two years, I have served as the executive sponsor our Black Colleague Resource Group (BCRG), one of 11 Colleague Resource Groups at CVS Health that promote a culture of diversity and inclusion across the company by offering our 240,000 colleagues the opportunity to join with others who share a common focus or affinity. As sponsor of the BCRG, I advocate for the group, participate in community service projects, help them navigate the organization, and support their recruiting and retention efforts of diverse colleagues.

 

As the president of CVS Pharmacy, I am also committed to a Shared Value approach to conducting business in a way that meets important societal needs. Our nearly 10,000 CVS Pharmacies and more than 1,100 in-store MinuteClinic locations serve as a one-stop community health resource for underserved, multicultural patient populations across the United States.

 

Through an initiative called Project Health, we host hundreds of in-store events each year to provide customers with a variety of free health-risk assessments, including screenings for blood pressure, body mass index, and glucose levels. In 2015, 750 events delivered more than $10 million worth of free health services to multicultural communities reaching a significant number of uninsured or underinsured individuals.

 

Last year, CVS Health completed its acquisition of the Navarro chain of pharmacies primarily serving Hispanic and Latino consumers. We are continuing to develop store formats and products to position us to better meet the needs of this growing segment of customers by launching multiple CVS y Más (CVS and More) stores in specific markets.


I am a great believer in the importance and power of diversity, and I am proud that both CVS Health and Harvard University share that strong commitment to diversity.

 
Karen Falkenstein Green AB '78 magna cum laude, JD '81 cum laude, ALI '15
Senior Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP, Boston, MA

 

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

 

I agree “that student body diversity – including racial diversity – is essential to [Harvard’s] pedagogical objectives and institutional mission.” At a time when the gap between rich and poor widens and some citizens and leaders seem unwilling even to consider views not consistent with their own, it is more important than ever to expose exceptional students to others with different backgrounds, life experiences, interests, talents and perspectives. Evidence suggests that a diverse student body enhances the learning of all of its members. In the course of daily interactions, students learn to think harder and more critically, broaden their perspectives, acquire greater understanding, and develop empathy. These educational benefits prepare them to lead others in our diverse world and to respond to its most vexing problems.

 

For this reason, I believe Harvard should continue to: pursue admissions policies that seek to achieve diversity in its student body on a variety of dimensions, including but not limited to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic background; pursue financial aid policies that enable those students who are admitted to attend, regardless of their financial circumstances; and devote additional resources to maximizing the benefits of a diverse student body to the education of all students.

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

My view is that race-conscious admissions programs, like the ones approved by the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, have been and continue to be an effective and necessary means to increase opportunities for members of traditionally underrepresented, racial minority groups to compete on a more equal footing for admission to college. But it goes beyond that -- these programs have also in my view enriched learning experiences for people of all backgrounds, improved the legitimacy of our institutions, and enabled our nation to realize the societal benefits of diversity more generally.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

See responses to Items 1 and 2 above.

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created

 

Based on the publicly available material I have reviewed, Harvard has been quite transparent about its college admissions process, including the process by which it seeks to select a diverse student body.

 

5.  What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?


I have been involved in the recruitment and hiring of candidates for positions at my law firm, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, and the Governor’s Office. I have also recruited, interviewed and recommended candidates for judgeships, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Committee, and served on CEO selection committees of at least three organizations of which I have been a director/trustee.

 

In each case, I have worked affirmatively, together with others, to recruit a highly-qualified pool of candidates that reflects the diversity of our society. In deciding whom to hire or recommend, I have considered the backgrounds, talents, interests, life experiences and character, as well as technical qualifications, of individual candidates and the particular benefits that their hiring or appointment would present for the organization as a whole. As a leader at my firm and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I have also focused on ensuring that women and minority lawyers, in particular, have received the same opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities (and thereby advance their careers) as other colleagues, and on creating a culture in which all are respected and valued.

 

 cited above: “Faculty Unanimously Endorse Student Diversity,” The Crimson, February 3, 2016.

 
Ketanji Brown Jackson AB '92 magna cum laude, JD '96 cum laude
Judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

 

Thank you for posing these insightful and significant questions.  As a sitting federal judge who was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2013, I feel duty bound not to express my personal views on matters of significance that have the potential to come before me in Court.  As you have indicated, diversity and affirmative action in higher education are among the hotly contested social issues that are currently working their way to, and through, tribunals across the country.  Consequently, I must respectfully decline to provide specific answers to your thoughtful inquiries.

 

Sincerely, 
Ketanji 

Ketanji Brown Jackson
United States District Judge 
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

 

 
John J. Moon AB '89 magna cum laude, AM '93, PhD '94
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley, New York, NY

 

1. How important should student diversity be at Harvard? What strategies should the University

pursue regarding this?

 

Diversity is more than simply a social justice issue. It is of paramount importance. Diversity on

campus ensures Harvard students continue to have an opportunity to engage regularly and

meaningfully in deep dialog with a broad range of people, and hence, a broad range of ideas and

experiences. No person or single group of people - no matter how open-minded - can represent

the full breadth of ideas and human experience. This breadth of interactions and experiences are

at the heart of truly creative and innovative thinking, and ultimately, compassionate and caring

citizens. Hence, diversity is not only a social good. It is a pedagogical imperative. Harvard

should use all legally available means to ensure we are able to continue to provide a diverse

community of thinkers from a broad range of experiences and backgrounds.

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

Harvard must continue to strive to balance its commitment to individual meritocracy (where

merit cannot be reduced simply to quantitative measures) with efforts to secure diversity. If

affirmative action policies are a necessary means by which to achieve diversity at important

institutions such as Harvard, Harvard should be allowed to use them.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer

to question #2).

 

As an active Asian-American alumnus of Harvard, I am quite attuned to the questions being

raised regarding the appropriate role of race in admissions. Racial diversity at Harvard is not just

a public good. The personal benefits of studying on a diverse campus are an essential part of

every Harvard student’s experience. That experience is essential to the truly critical and creative

mind. It is what makes Harvard special. We should use all legally available means to preserve

it.

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college

admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

I have given a great deal of thought to how Harvard admits its students over many years. I have

been involved with Harvard College admissions for nearly 20 years. During that time I have

served as an alumni interviewer, a Co-Chair of a Subcommittee of the Harvard Schools

Committee for New York City and served my full term of five years as Co-Chair of the New

York City Schools Committee. I know Harvard’s process to be holistic and fair - evaluating not

simply test scores but other qualitative, human factors which contribute to the richness of

campus life for which Harvard is world-renown.

 

So long as transparency is not a backdoor means to jeopardize diversity I support it. However,

there is a legitimate concern that purely quantitative and statistical analyses of admissions data to

review and potentially critique an inherently qualitative process could be used to distort debate of

these issues. One measure to address concerns over equity and transparency that I believe holds

broad support among alumni is to advocate for diversity not only in the student body but in all

facets of University life - the faculty, the administration including admissions officers and

alumni leaders.

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you

have participated in?

 

Throughout my career, I have served as a mentor, both formally and informally, to a racially

diverse group of employees. At times in my career, I have served as a manager responsible for

minority recruitment. I continue to mentor and have served as a speaker at functions sponsored

by the Asian Employee Network at Morgan Stanley.

 

I have served (for my full five-year term) as Co-Chair of the Harvard Schools Committee for

New York City and have served in other capacities with Harvard admissions and recruitment for

nearly 20 years. As part of my responsibilities as Co-Chair I was responsible for assisting the

Harvard Admissions Office with organizing open houses for prospective students including an

annual open house for minority students. I have also been an organizer of outreach to high

schools which are underrepresented in Harvard’s admissions pool and which tend to be

comprised disproportionately of minority students. Finally, as Co-Chair of the New York City

Schools Committee, I was responsible for recruiting alumni from diverse backgrounds to serve

as admissions interviewers. I have also sponsored promotion of several alumni interviewers of

color into leadership positions.

 
Alejandro Ramírez Magaña AB '94 cum laude, MBA '01
Chief Executive Officer, Cinépolis, Mexico City, Mexico

 

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

 

I think student diversity at Harvard is of the upmost importance.  A central part of a Harvard education is what you learn outside of classroom.  Professors, however huge their impact may be, are rarely true intellectual companions.  That companionship comes from the student body, the people you come into contact with in the dorm, in a study group, in a student organization or simply over a dinner conversation. They can push you with every bit the moral and intellectual urgency as the greatest professors. Having a wide and diverse student body was a crucial part of my Harvard experience, and I believe we should work to ensure that future generations enjoy the same.  

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I grew up in a relatively homogenous part of western Mexico.  At Harvard I encountered people from different races, religions, ethnicities, nationalities, political views and sexual orientations, and as a result of my interaction with all of them my worldview was enlarged and enriched. I cannot conceive my Harvard education without the rich racial, economic and intellectual diversity I experienced.

Affirmative action is not a perfect fix to class and racial inequality, and it was never intended to be. But to the degree that affirmative action policies can contribute to that complex and varied experience, while also helping to ameliorate larger social disparities, I support their continued role in making Harvard the richly cultured place it is.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2). 

 

I believe taking into account race as one of several factors in admissions, on top of obvious intellectual and scholarly achievement, seems well within the reasonable expectation of a college or university.  I believe in the benefits of diversity, and that race-conscious college admissions contribute to creating diverse communities. When retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1981 it was the fulfillment of a campaign promise by then candidate Reagan to "appoint a woman" to what had been up until that time an entirely male court.  If US Presidents, both liberal and conservative, are to free take race and gender into consideration in their appointments for the high court, in addition to professional and scholarly achievement, it stands to reason that colleges and universities should be able to use demographic factors as one factor among others when deciding how they will fill the ranks of their student body.


4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created. 

 

Creating a well-balanced and diverse community of very talented individuals is an extremely complex task.  When Harvard creates a college class it has to weigh so many different talents and capabilities that it becomes difficult to follow a single or formulaic approach in its admissions process.  Harvard wants to attract mathematicians and writers, musicians and scientists, leaders and social activists.  Similarly, Harvard seeks to achieve a diverse student body with people from different racial, economic and ethnic backgrounds.  If Harvard was to fully disclose how each class is created it could complicate an already complex process, and it could cause unnecessary controversy and polarization.  Achieving a balanced and varied community is more an art than a science.  For this reason I would not modify Harvard’s current college admissions process.  

I concur with President Drew Faust when, in reference to the legal challenge Harvard’s college admission process is facing, she said at the beginning of this school year:  “As the 2015-16 academic year begins, Harvard confronts a lawsuit that touches on its most fundamental values, a suit that challenges our admissions processes and our commitment to a widely diverse student body.  Our vigorous defense of our procedures and of the kind of educational experience they are intended to create will cause us to speak frequently and forcefully about the importance of diversity in the months to come.” 

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

 

I currently serve on the Board of the National Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination of Mexico (CONAPRED).  In that capacity I have participated in several initiatives to protect the rights of women, of migrant workers and of disabled people in the workplace.  In addition, I am chairing “Éntrale”, an initiative recently launched by the Mexican Business Council to make Mexican companies more inclusive for workers with disabilities.  In Cinepolis, the company I lead, we currently employ 83 workers with disabilities.

 
Kent Walker AB '83 magna cum laude
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Google Inc., Palo Alto, CA

 

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

I support the University's efforts to maintain and expand the diversity of its classes. T​he most valuable part of the undergraduate experience at Harvard is exposure to a wide cross-section of smart, engaging, and diverse fellow students.  Harvard should use its resources to reach out to schools and communities that have not traditionally ​sent many students to the Ivy League, support and expand its student aid to make Harvard affordable to lower-income students from all backgrounds, and continue its commitment to an admissions process that results in a rich and diverse student body. 

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

​I believe that​ it is appropriate for universities to look beond grades and test scores to consider the full 

range of applicants' life experiences, including factors like race, gender, sexual orientation, economic and cultural background, and any challenges or obstacles that a student has overcome.  

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

Race is an important factor in both the life experiences of applicants and the overall composition of a student body, and it is appropriate for a university to take it into account in its admissions process.

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

​I support efforts towards transparency in admissions.  Of course it's an inevitably subjective process, and legal constraints (and the pending lawsuits) may limit how the University can approach the 

​question.  But I think we all benefit from talking about these issues.​

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in? 

Our management team at Google has made it a priority to expand the diversity of our workforce, recruiting, retaining, and promoting people from a variety of backgrounds.  We were the first company in the technology sector to publish a diversity scorecard, we spent $115 million last year on diversity efforts, and we are working to do even more (as we are not yet where we'd like to be).  Google's Legal Department (including my leadership team) is one of the most diverse groups in the company, and we have been recognized as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Employer of the Year.  We were an early part of the Inclusion Initiative and actively work to promote diversity in our outside law firms and the teams working with us.  And we were one of the first companies in the country to sign onto amicus briefs in support of marriage equality and equality in employment benefits for our employees.

 

 
Damian Woetzel MPA '07
Artistic Director, Vail International Dance Festival; Director, Aspen Institute Arts Program, DEMO at the Kennedy Center, and Independent Projects, Roxbury, CT


1. How important should student diversity be at Harvard?

I believe it is essential that student diversity be strongly focused on at Harvard. The school should work to ensure understanding, dialogue and collaboration between students representing a full range of diversity. From the admissions level all the way through graduation I believe a diverse mix of students is essential to fairness as well to providing a true education for students. Vital in this conversation is working to ensure a diverse faculty and staff.

What strategies should the University pursue regarding this?

Admissions should be working to develop pathways to Harvard from traditionally under represented communities at the school, using methods including targeted outreach, special preparation efforts such as summer programs and seminars. Further, attention should be paid to success once enrolled and ways to ensure the success of all students whatever their backgrounds through mentorship and other supportive measures.

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

I am for a holistic approach to admissions, which takes racial background and its effects into account along with a variety of factors.

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2). See above.

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

I would like to see more transparency in admissions including how the mix of students is created, in the belief that this is an ongoing evolving issue that needs scrutiny and analysis over time to best adjust the process.

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

In my work as a director of programs and performances involving the arts, I would highlight several things relevant to this in two areas, a) enabling the creation of new artistic works as part of my programs, and b), providing arts education to young people particularly in underserved areas, as well as leadership training opportunities to young artists:

a) Through my directorship of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Program I worked over the program’s 5 year life to provide opportunities and commissions for the creation of new work to a diverse group of artists. Likewise, at the Vail International Dance Festival which I have directed since 2007, I work to offer commissions each year to a diverse pool of potential choreographers.


b) Through the Turnaround Arts program which I helped create as part of my role on the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, I have been working over the last 3 years to provide high quality arts education to students in our country’s most challenged schools. And as part of my Aspen Institute work, I have created a program bringing together young artists from all backgrounds culled from a range of poetry programs around the country to participate in leadership training, working to create a network of diverse young leaders who share the unique creative characteristics of artists.

 

Candidates Nominated by Petition (FHFH) (five)

 

 

Lee C. Cheng AB ’93 magna cum laude
Chief legal officer, Newegg, Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.

 

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

 

A truly diverse student body is critical to both the education of students at Harvard as well as to Harvard’s continuing relevance.  Diversity, however, must be measured in ways that are far more than skin deep, and far more emphasis needs to be placed on helping students from socioeconomically disadvantaged, and even middle class, backgrounds access and succeed at Harvard.  A diversity program that concentrates the wealthy and privileged of different ethnic groups has not achieved the optimal form of diversity.  

 

The University can begin to increase more broadly inclusive diversity by using, or focusing more of its resources on, removing the obstacle of tuition from consideration for all applicants.  This is the heart of the “Free Harvard” plank.  

 

Current Harvard financial aid programs, while commendable in their intent, provide relatively few applicants with freedom from having to worry about tuition payments.  Tuition has skyrocketed for little reason, particularly given the extent of the University’s financial resources and ability to redirect and access additional resources.  Tuition, even with financial aid, disproportionately burdens applicants from working middle and upper middle class families the most—they qualify for some financial aid, but their families often must bear a toll that strains cash flow and drains savings.  Applicants from truly wealthy families don’t care about tuition payments, and thus arguably are advantaged over middle and upper-middle class applicants.  Is the purpose of financial aid to create a relative advantage for the truly wealthy?  I would hope not, but that arguably is an effect of the present system.

 

While no data appears to be available on exactly how many applicants are deterred from applying to Harvard on the assumption that they would not qualify for enough financial aid, I believe it would be safe to assume that no tuition would encourage more non-wealthy students to apply.  Eliminating tuition would also allow the students who are accepted who may not enroll because their financial aid packages were insufficient to do so.

 

Harvard should also use, and indeed, I believe Harvard has a duty to, extend efforts to diversify its student population beyond the admissions process, to plant the seeds and nurture the shoots of diversity at the K-12 level, and potentially even before that.  Such efforts would ensure that students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, including and especially students from historically discriminated against ethnic minority communities, can qualify for and succeed at Harvard on a truly level playing field.   “Fair Harvard” can best be achieved, and complemented by an initiative I think could be called “More Harvard.”

 

Full transparency in admissions—from criteria, to how much each criteria is weighted and applied in admissions decisions, to the effect of admissions decisions—will help enable and increase diversity.  Many have questioned the legitimacy of legacy preferences, or of athletic preferences.  Let’s fully understand how much of a factor those preferences play, and exactly who benefits.  How about donation-based admissions—where a donation of millions of dollars supposedly tips the admission scale to “Yes”?  Is Harvard charging enough to grant such preferences?  If Harvard presently admits some students based largely on a few paltry millions being donated by their parents, perhaps Harvard should charge the parents of 10 applicants $25 million each for admission to cover the cost of tuition for all students?  There should still be enough left over for a really, really good clambake!  Finally, are poor students of color really the primary beneficiaries of race preferences, or are they simply being used to justify preferences for socioeconomically wealthy and privileged applicants?  

 

Let there be light.  

 

Let fact, and data, be our guides.

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I have always supported affirmative action, which I define as programs to help the disadvantaged in different societal contexts achieve equal access to opportunities.  I am the child of an immigrant librarian and bookkeeper, and a product of public schools before Harvard, so I have strong reason to believe that society can benefit greatly when people who are not from privileged backgrounds are given chances to reach their potentials.

 

I believe that race can be considered in college admissions—it is a legitimate aspect of what makes every person different and diverse.  However, I oppose racial discrimination—there is nothing affirmative about racial discrimination.  Race-determinative admissions, where individuals, often from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, end up being discriminated against based on race and ethnicity, is morally repugnant to me.  It is never justifiable to favor someone rich over someone poor.  It is never justifiable to require one applicant to have to work harder, and achieve more, to have the same outcome, because of their skin color.  Race can be used, in my opinion, as a thumb on the scale of two equally qualified candidates, but it should not be used to justify different scales altogether.

 

I would advocate, as stated above, greatly enhanced efforts to make Harvard accessible to applicants of all communities who presently either do not consider Harvard a viable option, or are underrepresented (including ethnically).  Efforts must begin far earlier than the senior year of high school, and would require enormous resources, creativity and perseverance, along with a heavy dose of idealism.  

 

But we are Harvard alumni.  We gained admission to and obtained degrees from the greatest and best funded institution of learning in the history of the world because of our promise and potential, expressed and unexpressed, to find solutions to the toughest problems and to change the world for the better.  As for resources, I cannot imagine that an institution that can fund billions of dollars in professional class athletic facilities and offices and dormitories that compare favorably to luxury hotels cannot find the resources to equitably and sustainably advance social justice.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2). 

 

Please see my response to Question #2.  

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created

 

Transparency has always been the friend of the disadvantaged.  The opacity of the current admissions criteria and process, how those criteria are weighted and how admissions decisions are made, creates huge advantages for the privileged and wealthy.  Talented, motivated and hardworking students who don’t have access to counselors and expensive consultants who were former Ivy League admissions officers should be able to get the same insights on college admissions as their more privileged peers.  Transparency will go a long way toward leveling the playing field in college admission, and naturally create and result in a more diverse student body, especially socioeconomically.

 

Further, full transparency, limited only by legally necessary protections for personally identifiable information,  will allow the Harvard community and the world at large to determine whether the criteria used, or how they are used, are achieving the outcomes declared and desired, or if they may in fact be unfairly discriminatory.  

 

Accountability is perhaps a concept that is not commonly associated with college admissions or academia.  It should be.  Harvard should have nothing to hide with respect to its admissions practices.  Not providing full transparency would suggest that it does. Transparency should also enable flaws to be more quickly corrected, and improvements made.

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in? 

 

I have worked at Newegg.com for over 10 years now, and am proud to have built and led what has always and consistently been one of the most diverse legal departments in corporate America and relative to our size, one of the highest performing.  We are not a large group, but a majority of our members have always been members of ethnic minority groups and women.  Presently, my legal department consists of 6 lawyers or legal specialists, 5 of whom are ethnic minorities, with two women.  At one time, a third of my department’s lawyers were LGBT.

 

I have also led efforts to broaden outreach in recruiting and hiring generally, and helped research and implement an affirmative action program at Newegg.  However, Newegg’s workforce overall has always had significant numbers of minorities, reflecting the diverse communities in which we operate.

 

Outside of Newegg, and in the broader legal community, I founded and have run a program for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) called the Prospective Partners Program (PPP) which seeks to help increase the number of Asian American partners at law firms in an equitable and sustainable way.  The PPP introduces APA senior associates and of counsel to senior APA in-house lawyers who coach and advise the “prospective partners” on the most effective ways to make partner and to win and retain clients.  Since the PPP was launched in 2010, 86% (31/36) of PPP participants have either made partner or (even better!) become in-house clients within 2 years of participation.  

 

I am presently working with my Newegg colleagues to help other minority bar associations, starting with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), launch similar programs.  None of these programs have or are intended to exclude any participant based on race.

 

 
 
Stephen Hsu
Professor of theoretical physics and vice president for research and graduate studies, Michigan State UniversityOkemos, Mich.

 

Please see my responses to the questionnaire below.

 

Also, see this (video) discussion with CNN writer Jeff Yang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekcNqlHptM

 

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

 

Students benefit from peers of diverse backgrounds and with diverse viewpoints. Harvard should consider campus diversity as one of several important priorities, and should invest significant resources in support of the recruitment and success of individuals from under-represented groups.

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I support moderate admissions preferences for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, Harvard has a responsibility to ensure that all admitted students have sufficient academic capability to thrive in a rigorous and competitive intellectual environment.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

See above.

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

Harvard should be more transparent concerning its admissions process, though of course without violating individual privacy. Concerns that Asian American students have been held to higher standards than other groups should be addressed through detailed (e.g., statistical) analysis of records.

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

 

As a professor, Silicon Valley CEO, and university administrator, I have always urged my team to be broad minded, inclusive, and welcoming of individuals from different backgrounds. I have made specific efforts to seek out and recruit individuals from under-represented groups.

 

 
Ralph Nader, LL.B. ’58
Citizen-activist and author; founder, The Center for Responsive Law and Public Citizen  Washington, D.C.

 

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

 

Student diversity is an indispensable element in education and should be a primary concern at Harvard University. I believe that universities and all institutions should demonstrate respect for people from all walks of life and that universities should work especially hard to eliminate prejudice based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic status.

 

2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I strongly support affirmative action and reparations for African Americans.

 

Randall Robinson's words are noteworthy: “For while I support affirmative action, I believe that those who would camp blacks in an exitless corner expending all energy defending its thin dime do the black community no service. It is, again, not that affirmative action concepts are wrongheaded. They indeed are not. They should remain in place. But such programs are not solutions to our problems. They are palliatives that help people like me, who are poised to succeed when given half a chance. They do little for the millions of African Americans bottom-mired in urban hells by the savage time-release social debilitations of American slavery. They do little for those Americans, disproportionately black, who inherit grinding poverty, poor nutrition, bad schools, unsafe neighborhoods, low expectation, and overburdened mothers. Lamentably, there will always be poverty. But African Americans are over-represented in that economic class for one reason and one reason only: American slavery and the vicious climate that followed it. Affirmative action, should it survive, will never come anywhere near to balancing the books here. While I can speak only for myself, I choose not to spend my limited gifts and energy and time fighting only for the penny due when a fortune is owed.” Randall Robinson was “not talking about writing checks to people” - he was urging institutional supports (see September 25, 2005 interview in The Progressive).

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

I support race-conscious college admissions with historical wisdom.

 

4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

Harvard definitely should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created and the criteria for preferring athletes.

 

5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

 

In addition to hiring people of color, we have developed several projects that have focused on discriminatory or predatory practices affecting people of color.

 

Our Banking Research Project pioneered the use of GIS mapping to analyze Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) records and to examine discrimination in mortgage lending. Our landmark report: Racial Redlining: A Study of Racial Discrimination by Banks and Mortgage Companies in the United States, examined the issue of racial redlining by major mortgage lenders in the nation's larger metro areas. Our study, which received nationwide media coverage, prompted Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate the 49 major lenders that have been engaging in this practice.

 

In 1980 we produced a landmark study on the racial and cultural biases in standardized testing. Our report, The Reign of ETS: The Corporation that Makes Up Minds, revealed that standardized tests are not objective. They heavily correlate with family income and do not test important attributes without numbers. They do not serve their purpose in identifying a student's capacity for achievement. The purpose they do serve is the exclusion of minority and low-income students from higher level education opportunities. This is not a valid purpose especially because higher education provides people of color many opportunities to advance in society.

 

In 1985 we launched the “Pledge for Racial Equality in South Africa” on campuses nationwide. The goal of this project was to pressure companies doing business in South Africa.

 

Oil accounts for more than 80 percent of the despotic Nigerian government's income, and Shell, through its Nigerian subsidiary, is responsible for more than half of Nigeria's crude oil output. Drilling for oil causes major pollution. But Shell's operations in Nigeria are ecologically disgraceful even by the already depressed standards of the industry worldwide. Much of the worst devastation has occurred in Ogoniland, home to the Ogoni people. That devastation and social inequities led Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People to organize a strong movement against Shell and the Nigerian government -- a movement which achieved enormous success but ultimately led to Saro-Wiwa's execution.

 

While a host of groups were focused on urging Congress to adopt economic sanctions against Nigeria, Essential Action led the grassroots effort to put pressure on Shell, the company which fuels the Nigerian dictatorship. Our Essential Action team organized community groups and students across the country, distributed educational material, hosted the leading e-mail discussion list on Shell and Nigeria, worked with the media, organized protests, arranged speaking tours and staged an assortment of other activities designed to promote the Shell boycott and support the democratic struggle in Nigeria.

 

Our Essential Action campaign worked to ensure that people in developing countries were able to obtain AIDS medicines and other essential medicines. We helped reverse the U.S. policy of demanding that countries adopt restrictive patent laws that block the introduction of price-lowering generic competition. Our Access to Medicines campaign focused particularly -- though not exclusively – on the AIDS pandemic. Prices for life-saving anti-AIDS drugs in South Africa were then $10,000 a year per person. Now, thanks to our efforts and the generic competition it has facilitated, such drugs cost less than $100 a year per person. Where treatment for the millions of people who are dying annually from HIV/AIDS once seemed beyond imagination, millions of people in developing countries are now receiving life-saving treatment.

 

Through our Multinationals Resource Center project we disseminated technical and detailed information to global allies in campaigns for access to medicines, public health, tobacco control, corporate accountability and other areas.

 

Our Essential Information Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control worked with more than 370 tobacco control groups from more than 100 countries and 40 U.S. states. The groups - including dozens of youth organizations worldwide - participated in a vibrant global network. Many of the practices of multinational tobacco companies target communities of color and their youngsters.

 

 
Stuart Taylor Jr., J.D. ’77 magna cum laude
Author, journalist, lawyer; nonresident senior fellow, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.

 

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

 

There are many diversities, and the most critical of them in my view are diversity of socioeconomic background, intellectual (including ideological) orientation, and racial (including ethnic) background.

 

Socioeconomic diversity. In this era of persistent and growing economic inequality, it is critical that Harvard to be a beacon of opportunity for promising people who were not born rich, privileged, or even upper-middle class. So socioeconomic diversity is critical. It also fosters racial diversity because the traditionally disadvantaged minorities are disproportionately of modest means. Indeed, affirmative action was originally -- and still should be -- designed to increase socioeconomic as well as racial diversity.

 

The promising children of schoolteachers, grocers, construction workers, laundry workers, factory workers, cops, firefighters, taxi drivers, janitors, and structurally unemployed parents deserve opportunities to improve their lives. And many could do well at Harvard. They also have much to teach their more prosperous classmates, and vice versa. In addition, experience shows that students of modest means may well gain ground on or even surpass wealthier classmates, from better schools, who enter college with somewhat higher test scores and high school grades.

 

Of course, it would a student of modest means -- or any student -- no favor for Harvard to to admit her, in pursuit of a numerical target, if she lacks the academic preparation to do well. This would and thus to set her up for academic struggle or failure by. And most entering students want to do well enough to pursue aspirations for careers that require challenging undergraduate courses and good grades. Harvard must strike a careful balance to extend opportunity broadly without using academically underprepared students as pawns, while misleading them about their academic prospects.

 

My impression is that Harvard has done far too little to attract and admit promising students of modest means. If elected, I will have access to much more information to test this impression. I will hope to be proved wrong. If proved right, I will do my utmost to change that.

 

Both the "Free Harvard" (abolishing tuition) and the "Fair Harvard" (admissions transparency) planks of our five-candidate slate would greatly foster socioeconomic diversity. Making Harvard tuition-free would attract countless well-qualified applicants from families of modest to average means who would now have great difficulty paying for a Harvard education, even with relatively generous financial aid. Free tuition would also attract countless more people, especially from small-town America, who now assume that Harvard is for the rich. Admissions transparency would also help bring in more students of modest and average means, for the reasons given in my response to question #4.

 

Intellectual diversity. It is vital for any university to welcome outstanding students and faculty with a wide range of intellectual orientations. Intellectual dialectic that challenges one's views is vital to clear thinking and progress. We all learn much from civil discourse with people whose intellectual orientations and opinions are unlike our own. Intellectual homogeneity makes potentially smart people stupid by fostering groupthink, herd behavior, and complacency. I rarely feel that I am learning much of value about important public issues unless I am in touch with, or at least reading, thoughtful conservatives, liberals, and moderates, ideally ranging from end to end of the ideological spectrum of opinion.

 

As a moderate -- with views to the left of most of the general public and to the right of most academics and journalists -- I have long believed that America's top universities, including Harvard, are sorely lacking in intellectual diversity and getting worse. I was especially shocked when coauthoring (with KC Johnson) my first book, Until Proven Innocent. It focused on (among other things) the unthinking, disgraceful, mob-like rush to judgment in 2006 and 2007 by more than activist Duke professors from the far Left -- and the university's leadership, which feared far left professors and their media allies -- against Duke lacrosse players who were falsely accused of gang rape. I was even more horrified that virtually all of the more fair-minded Duke professors were too intimidated by the far-left mob to speak up for due process and the presumption of innocence.

 

Worse, I have been told that it would be almost impossible today -- in part because of thinly veiled discrimination -- for an academic with conservative or even moderate ideological views to get tenure at Harvard in any field outside the STEM disciplines and perhaps economics. (I would be very glad to see this proved wrong.) Students would learn much more from an intellectually diverse faculty.

 

"Free Harvard" would indirectly increase intellectual diversity by attracting applicants from a broader range of backgrounds. "Fair Harvard" could indirectly increase intellectual diversity by exposing any ideology-based discrimination against applicants. It could also shed light on whether admissions preferences based on race, legacy status, or athletic talent foster undue ideological homogeneity. And although intellectual diversity is not part of the "Freer Harvard, Fair Harvard" platform, it will be a personal priority of mine if I am elected.

 

Racial diversity. This is important both to the (limited) extent that it still fosters socioeconomic diversity and because, ideally, Harvard should look more like America and the world. For this reason, I have long supported affirmative action in the original and most healthy sense: energetic outreach, recruitment, and talent-development efforts to extend opportunity to traditionally underserved groups and to break down historical hierarchies. I support such programs in walks of life ranging from the construction trades to Harvard admissions. Harvard should, to the extent possible, work directly with inner-city schools to improve their students' academic preparation and competitiveness.


2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

I incorporate by reference my support for the kinds of affirmative action discussed in the last paragraph of my response to question #1.

 

At the same time, as detailed below, I have grave concerns about the excesses associated with large racial preferences. By that I mean preferences that lead to large racial gaps in the entering academic credentials, and consequently in the academic performance, of students at Harvard or any other school. Such racial preferences should not be made a permanent feature of American life, a goal of many racial-preference supporters.

 

I also oppose have grave concerns about the use of "affirmative action" -- and of "diversity" -- as euphemisms for excessive use of large racial preferences and quotas. This is unfortunate and misleading because a great many Americans do not equate "affirmative action" with racial preferences. The evidence is that while polls have for decades consistently shown overwhelming public opposition to "racial preferences" and even to "consideration of race in admissions," the polls are much more closely divided on "affirmative action."

 

Describing racial preferences as "affirmative action" is also misleading as a historical matter. The Kennedy and Johnson executive orders that popularized the phrase did not endorse -- indeed, they forbade -- preferences for, as well as discrimination against, any racial group.  

 

Please see also my responses to questions #1 and #3.


3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

I again incorporate by reference my support for the kinds of affirmative action discussed in the last paragraph of my response to question #1.

 

But excessively large racial admissions preferences for favored minorities have very large social costs. The most obvious are unfairness to well-qualified Asian American and white applicants, especially the former, and the resentments that unfairness inevitably creates.

 

Indeed, in most selective universities -- including Harvard, I suspect -- the academically strong child of two Asian American or white cab drivers is almost certain to be passed over to admit the academically less strong child of two wealthy black or Hispanic lawyers. Again, as I said in my response to question #1, I will hope to be proved wrong. And again, if proved right, I will do my utmost to change that.

 

Less well-known but perhaps even more important is the powerful evidence that large racial preferences have backfired both against their supposed beneficiaries and against socioeconomic diversity.

 

Many of the most severely damaged victims of large racial preferences are, ironically, black and Hispanic students who have been misled about their academic prospects and thereby set up for struggle or even failure. Much of this evidence is detailed in Mismatch, a 2012 book that Richard Sander and I coauthored. It cited copious empirical research, and a number of individual stories, showing that large admissions preferences often have dire effects on recipients' academic performance, self-confidence, and career options.

 

Many very good African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students who would do well at most prestigious colleges are not academically prepared to compete at Harvard against some of the world's most brilliant and best-prepared students. This "mismatch," and the low grades that it causes, often forces such students to abandon challenging courses, especially in the STEM disciplines, that are gateways to the professions that many students of all races want to pursue. Mismatch also fosters self-doubt, self-segregation, understandable (if incorrect) suspicions that discrimination must be at work, unhappiness, and a sense of betrayal among students who were promised that they would do well. It also reinforces racial stereotypes about intellectual capacity.

 

A second irony of large racial preferences is that they ultimately undermine the beneficial effects of racial diversity itself. They do this by causing preferred minorities to cluster in easily graded courses, to sit at separate tables in dining halls, to live and socialize primarily with other academically mismatched minorities, and to demand more "safe spaces" where they can minimize contact with members of other racial groups . For these reasons, studies have shown, students tend to become friends mainly with academic peers.

 

A third irony has been the drift away from the original affirmative-action goal of advancing poor and blue-collar students whose families have been held back in life by racial discrimination or other forces. In order to avoid even larger racial gaps in academic performance than now, the black and Hispanic that students whom Harvard chooses to admit come very disproportionately from families that are either wealthy or foreign-born or both. The reason is that these students tend to have stronger academic credentials than the disproportionately poor and badly educated descendants of slaves.

 

"Free Harvard" would improve these problems by increasing the pool of well-qualified, socioeconomically diverse minority applicants and therefore reducing the pressure to use large racial preferences to reach numeral targets. Meanwhile, "Fair Harvard" would expose the costs as well as the benefits of large racial preferences, as detailed in my response to question #4.


4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

Harvard should become much more transparent about its college admissions process, and about how the mix of students is created. This might be the single most healthy policy change that Harvard could adopt, especially in light of the deep suspicions among Asian Americans (and others, including me) that Harvard may systematically discriminate against them.

 

If transparency shows this suspicion to be unfounded, it will be good news for everyone. If transparency shows it to be true, it should lead immediately to ending an indefensible violation of Harvard's professed principles. Sunlight, in the wise words of Justice Brandeis, is the best of disinfectants.

 

Perhaps equally important, admissions transparency would serve a vital consumer-protection purpose for students from preferred racial minority groups, as well as the recruited athletes, children of large donors, and legacy applicants who also receive preferences. Harvard does not now give such preferred applicants an honest appraisal of what they are getting into. It does not tell them how their academic credentials compare with those of their median classmates. It does not tell them how well or poorly Harvard's own admissions people predict they will do, based on the academic indices -- a mix of high school grades and test scores -- that virtually all selective universities use to rank applicants by academic potential. It does not tell those who hope to take tough pre-med courses the success rates of past students with similar academic preparation.

 

Preference recipients, and everyone else, could figure out such questions for themselves if there were adequate transparency. That could mean public disclosure of all admissions policy documents and data that can be disclosed without violating the privacy of individual students. The data could include the average and median academic index scores all admitted students; of recruited athletes; of legacies; of those whose parents or grandparents have made large gifts or pledges during the three years preceding the admissions decisions; and of those in each identified racial group. The data could also include the average Harvard grades, the STEM-discipline retention rates, the most popular majors, and the graduation rates of students whose admissions-office academic index scores were in the 10th, 20th, 30th, and so on up to 90th percentiles.

 

Admitted applicants should privately be told their own academic index scores so that they can check how well past students with similar scores have done, on average. This would also allow those with relatively low academic index scores to focus on whether, in the long rung, they would be better off at Harvard, perhaps ending up near the bottom of the class, or at another, prestigious but less competitive school, where they could be academic stars.

 

Such transparency would also confirm or dispel myths about some closely guarded secrets that should not be secret: the extent and size of all forms of preferences -- athletic, legacy, and large-donor as well as racial -- and the related gaps in academic achievement. Transparency would thus enable informed debate over proposed policy changes.

 

Some people fear that transparency would create pressure to reduce somewhat the size of the racial gaps in the academic preparation of admitted students. They may prove to be wrong, at least at Harvard, because the racial gaps behind the current veil of secrecy may prove to be smaller than those at any other selective college. That is the inference to be drawn both from the best available data (which are dated and sketchy) and from Harvard's well-known ability to attract a lion's share of the top students in all racial groups. This will be all the more true when Harvard becomes both free and fair.


5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

 

As a career journalist and author, I have never been involved in hiring decisions and thus have never been in a position to bring diversity to my workplaces. In addition, all of my employers have been so sensitive to the benefits of diversity that they appeared to be taking already whatever steps I might recommend. I am not (yet) an active enough participant in any organization to make policy proposals. If that changes -- and certainly if I am elected to be a Harvard overseer -- I will make special efforts to push for as much socioeconomic, intellectual, and racial diversity as can reasonably be achieved.

 

 
Ron Unz AB ’83 magna cum laude
Software developer and chairman, UNZ.org; Publisher, The Unz Review, Palo Alto, Calif.

 

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

 I strongly support "diversity" among Harvard undergraduates, but true diversity across numerous criteria rather than the current pseudo-diversity produced by the seemingly biased and corrupt existing admissions process that primarily benefits the wealthy and the well-connected.  Harvard's massive $38 BILLION endowment annually generates investment income 25 times larger than net college tuition revenue, leading us to advocate the eliminate of undergraduate tuition.  This would immediately draw a vast number of new applicants from all different backgrounds who had never previously considered the possibility of a Harvard education, greatly increasing the potential for true diversity.

 

 2. Please state your views on affirmative action.

 

 I have always been personally opposed to racial/ethnic affirmative action.  However, since the candidates on our Free Harvard/Fair Harvard Overseer slate have a wide variety of different views on the contentious matter, this position is not part of our platform.

 

3. Please state your views on race-conscious college admissions (if not specified in your answer to question #2).

 

 See above.

 

 4. Please state your views on whether Harvard should be more transparent about its college admissions process, particularly about how the mix of students is created.

 

 I strongly support far greater transparency in the Harvard admissions process.  Senior Harvard administrators have repeatedly claimed that the admissions process is generally governed by considerations of meritocracy and diversity, twin goals widely shared within the Harvard community.  However, there exists considerable statistical and anecdotal evidence that factors of corruption and favoritism actually determine the selection of large numbers of students, including the existence of an officially-denied but informal "Asian Quota."  Greater admissions transparency would help to resolve these troubling suspicions and better allow all Harvard stakeholders to decide whether major reforms might be necessary.

 

 5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity to your workplace or to an organization that you have participated in?

 

 I've spent very little of my career as part of any large organization and anyway have serious doubts about the value of "diversity" for its own sake.

 

 

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