Harvard has authorized three faculty candidates specializing in ethnic studies for appointment, a significant step in its long-running cluster hire for professors in the field, Dean of Social Science Lawrence D. Bobo said in an interview Friday.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay announced the search for three to four senior faculty in Latinx, Asian American, and Muslim studies in June 2019, with a goal of completion by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, but it has been plagued by delays.
Bobo said the FAS has “moved ahead” with four potential senior candidates, three of whom have been authorized for appointment.
“We’re in that complicated process of trying to persuade people to come and they’re all truly terrific people,” he said. “I’m optimistic we’re going to be successful with this, then we will begin to feel like a very different place and a really exciting place in this arena.”
“It’s taking a little longer than all of us would like, but we’re at a very good place,” Bobo added.
After a weathering a series of crises over faculty diversity and sexual harassment in recent years, Bobo said his division is “headed in the right direction.”
“Things are all at the moment, from my vantage point, headed in the right direction, though cultural transformation is an ongoing process,” he said.
Professors in the Economics, Government, and Anthropology departments have all been sanctioned for sexual harassment in the last three years.
Bobo said his office has supported departments in undertaking climate reviews and working through issues brought to light.
“All of our departments in the division have engaged in a process of climate surveys in order to take stock of where we stand now, where we seem to still have problems, and what we might do to now plan on strategies for moving forward and keeping this momentum toward a strong commitment to inclusive excellence as just a durable feature of our culture in all of our departments,” he said.
He highlighted the work of the Government and Anthropology departments to conduct “intensive self-study and examination.”
“The [Government] department has internally introduced some reforms to greatly mitigate, you know, mitigate against the possibility of any such trouble occurring again,” he said. “I feel confident that they are taking this — certainly absolutely the leadership of the department — takes the obligations here and the need to set a certain tone with the utmost seriousness and dedication.”
In July, Harvard permitted Economics professor Roland G. Fryer Jr. to conditionally return to teaching and research roles after a two-year suspension for violating sexual harassment policies.
Bobo said Fryer’s return to teaching — which is subject to certain restrictions — has gone “swimmingly well.”
“I think [Fryer] has handled it well for his part, so has the department, and to my knowledge at least — …….