Faust Stresses Need For Staff Diversity

Diversity Officer Joins University

While strides have been made to increase faculty and staff diversity, University President Drew G. Faust wrote in a campus-wide e-mail, women and minorities remain underrepresented in many campus circles. The latest development in the effort to diversify focuses on the university’s non-faculty workforce, an endeavor lead by newly appointed Chief Diversity Officer Lisa M. Coleman.

Coleman joined the administration in Mass. Hall two weeks ago as Chief Diversity Officer, and will now be responsible for taking the lead in ensuring staff diversity.

According to Faust’s community e-mail, 60 percent of Harvard staff are women and 22 percent are people of color, but only 12 percent of those have attained leadership positions.

Coleman said in an interview with The Crimson yesterday that efforts to improve diversity on campus center not only around quantitative factors, like more minority hires, but also on qualitative aspects, like the community’s attitude towards minority staffers.

“This is an era when the notion of diversity is changing,” Coleman said. “This is an opportunity for Harvard to talk about what it means to have a diverse campus.”


Yesterday’s e-mail continues a long-standing effort by Faust to improve diversity on campus. Faust ascended to the Presidency in 2007 under the shadow of former University President Larry Summers’ comments alleging that the relatively low number of tenured women in science and math departments might be explained by women having a lower aptitude for those subjects than men.

During Faust’s time as President, women have made gains among the faculty and administrative staff, attaining more senior level positions at the University. Faust noted that she was the only female dean in 2001; now there are five.

Still, efforts to open employment opportunities to women on campus have proceeded slowly, according to the 2009 Faculty Development and Diversity Report. Harvard’s proportion of women junior professors, for example, lags behind peer institutions in many fields, the report states.

Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Judith D. Singer, whose office prepared the report, said that comparisons to peer institutions were difficult to gauge and that the strides Harvard has made are more pertinent to the University.

“The statistics document what you could say was amazing success,” Singer said yesterday. “Forty-six percent of junior faculty in the social sciences at Harvard are women—that’s amazing.”

Still, Singer admitted that there was progress to be made to increase the number of “underrepresented minorities”—a category defined by Faust’s letter as African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans—on Harvard’s faculty. Those minorities make up only about 6 percent of the University’s ladder faculty, according to the e-mail.

—Staff writer Elias J. Groll can be reached at

—Staff writer William N. White can be reached