The pressure on Larry Summers yields substantive results:
Lawrence H. Summers, the embattled president of Harvard University, announced yesterday that the university would spend at least $50 million over the next decade to recruit, support and promote women and members of underrepresented minority groups on its faculty. Dr. Summers said the money would be spent on a range of initiatives, including the creation of a new senior vice provost post to focus on diversity issues, improved recruitment, subsidies for salaries, mentoring of junior faculty members and extending the clock on tenure for professors who go on maternity or parental leave. Dr. Summers has been under siege since making remarks in January suggesting that “intrinsic aptitude” might be a factor behind the low number of women in science and engineering.
With his presidency threatened, he issued repeated apologies and appointed two committees to make recommendations on how to increase the presence of women on Harvard’s faculty, particularly in science and engineering. In making his proposals, Dr. Summers adopted the recommendations of reports released yesterday by those committees. The reports made clear that Harvard, arguably the most prestigious university in the nation, lagged behind the most aggressive universities in attracting and retaining a diverse faculty. Last year, only 4 of 32 professors offered tenure in the faculty of arts and science were women. Many of the proposals in the new reports were inspired by programs already in place at universities around the country. “In spite of more than three decades of concern, Harvard has made only limited progress in its efforts to create a genuinely diverse faculty,” the committee members said. “Women and minorities remain significantly underrepresented in relation not just to their proportions in the broader population.
Let’s hope Richard Levin, who’s done a better job than Larry Summers of keeping out of the press but not much better in hiring women, feels some heat to compete with this.