After Monday’s Supreme Court hearings for the pair of anti-affirmative action lawsuits, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said she “felt encouraged” that the case for race-conscious admissions “was laid out in a really compelling way” in an interview Wednesday.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The schools argue their current race-conscious processes help maintain a racially diverse student body, which they say provides educational and societal benefits.
Racial diversity among students ensures a “special alchemy” of varied life experiences and backgrounds, Gay said Wednesday, allowing the school to offer a “transformative educational experience” and diversify the pool of future world leaders.
“No matter the decision from the court, we will comply,” she said. “We will also be unwavering in our commitment to building and nurturing a diverse and vibrant campus community.”
Gay also touched on the $84.9 million surplus with which the FAS and Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ended fiscal year 2022. Though the school is “fiscally healthy,” as stated by FAS Dean of Administration and Finance Scott A. Jordan, Gay said her goal is to “ensure that the FAS remains resilient through all contingencies.”
“This is arriving at an opportune moment in many ways, in the sense that FAS-wide, we’re undertaking this strategic planning process,” Gay said Wednesday. “We will have the opportunity to bring a level of intentionality and thoughtfulness to how we draw on our fiscal strength and our resources to ensure academic excellence for this moment and for decades to come.”
Following up on a question from the previous faculty meeting, Gay shared data on the availability of faculty support by division, noting that the Arts and Humanities division is “woefully understaffed.”
The Arts and Humanities division has three “faculty assistant-like” positions, while Sciences and Social Sciences have 83 and 33, respectively, Gay said Tuesday.
“I believe that all faculty should have access to some baseline level of support that is responsive, that is effective and professional,” she said in an interview Wednesday.
Gay said she views this lack of support as an “urgent priority” and has charged Jordan to work with the Arts and Humanities divisional office to develop a solution to this issue.
“I hope that we will be able to put something in place reasonably soon so that, again, faculty can begin to get the kind of support that they need to be effective both as scholars and as teachers,” she said.
The Crimson interviews FAS Dean Claudine Gay once per month during the academic year. Click here to submit a question for consideration in our next interview.
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