Underrepresented Minority Tenure Track Faculty in Harvard Sciences Increases to 13 Percent

Juliet E. Isselbacher, Harvard Crimson, March 27, 2019

The percentage of underrepresented minority tenure track faculty in Harvard’s Sciences division has increased 10 percentage points to 13 percent in the past year, according to Dean of Science Christopher W. Stubbs.

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The division has broadened faculty searches, improved postdoctoral mentorship, and adjusted graduate student admissions criteria in an effort to address a “national pipeline issue” that Stubbs said contributes to a lack of diversity among Sciences division faculty.

The division’s current percentage of underrepresented minority faculty has not yet caught up with the share of underrepresented minorities in the national population — roughly 30 percent.

“My personal view is that [underrepresentation is] a reflection of national values. It’s not a reflection on our University. Now, I’m not trying to absolve us of responsibility of trying to address that,” he said. “I think a fair question to ask is, what the heck are we doing about the national pipeline issue?”

Stubbs outlined a number of the division’s current initiatives, one at each stage of the pipeline into the tenure track — undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty.

At the end of the pipeline, the Sciences departments — most recently including Math — have broadened their faculty searches in intellectual scope in order to identify candidates who are both “outstanding” and “representational,” according to Stubbs.

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Stubbs also addressed measures taken to diversify the graduate student population in the division. He said that since “grit and perseverance” are just as robust indicators of success as test scores, the Astronomy department is piloting a new approach to admissions that emphasizes applicants’ demonstrated tenacity rather than their testing history.

In fact, the department has eliminated standardized GRE scores as a selection criteria. GRE scores correlate more with socioeconomic status than with “raw intellect,” according to Stubbs.

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Stubbs finally moved to address future initiatives that target undergraduates. He said some incoming College students are unaware of the skill level and knowledge they are expected to enter with if they hope to pursue advanced coursework in the sciences.

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