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Forbes.com

 

Recession-Proof Diversity

January 10, 2009

By Heather Mac Donald

The college diversity racket is immune to economic downturns. Harvard University has announced its latest diversity dean for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Any rational budget analyst would mark this deanship for the ax, since it overlaps with the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity--and with the co-chairpersonships of the Standing Committee on Women.

Yet it would appear that no financial meltdown, no matter how great, can shake academia’s manic and irrational pursuit of a creature as imaginary as a unicorn: an even remotely qualified faculty made up of proportional numbers of blacks, Hispanics and women. Article Controls

Back in 2005, then-President Larry Summers inflated Harvard’s already bloated diversity bureaucracy in penance for suggesting, in the spirit of open academic debate, that the distribution of high-end math skills in men and women could at least partly explain male dominance in the hard sciences. That recklessly truthful comment ultimately cost Summers his presidency, but not before he bootlessly tried to placate the diversity machine by creating a diversity sinecure--the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity--and committing $50 million to a fanatical search for a racially and sexually proportional faculty.

Now Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust and Dean Michael D. Smith have appointed sociology and African-American studies professor Michele Lamont as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ diversity dean. Lamont--an “expert on the dynamics of social exclusion in France and the United States,” The Harvard Crimson says--will also chair yet another new diversity committee.

But please don’t confuse the diversity dean for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity. They are not the same, though how they differ is a mystery beyond ordinary human ken. The diversity provost just published a report comparing the percentage of minority and female professors at Harvard and other universities; the new diversity dean will use this latest report to browbeat departments for their lack of diversity, which the diversity provost does as well.

Not daunted by the superfluity of her role, Lamont plans to “research what other universities are doing on the diversity front,” the Crimson reports, something that the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity also does. The answer, no matter who’s asking, is simple. For the last 30 years, Harvard and its peers have pledged repeatedly to find the holy grail of perfect diversity. They have remained deliberately blind to the fact that the critical precondition to attaining diversity--a sufficient number of qualified minority Ph.D.s across the academy and of female Ph.D.s in the hard sciences--is not in place.

They have desperately searched the horizon for a miraculous, undiscovered trove of qualified “diversity” candidates and lowered hiring standards when they have failed to discover it. And, of course, they have obsessively produced comparative diversity studies for years, as if running the numbers would magically produce candidates who don’t exist.

Original Source: http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/09/harvard-diversity-lamont-oped-cx_hd_0110donald.html

 

 
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