More on Summers Fallout:

Here's something that hadn't previously caught my eye about the fallout from the Summers episode (from the Harvard Crimson):

Part of the money will fund 40 new faculty appointments over the next five years "with priority given to the hiring of women and underrepresented minorities," according to the report from the Task Force on Women Faculty.

Hmmm, if the problem was the remarks that Summers made referring to women, why would his indulgence offering also include underrepresented minorities?

Silicon Valley Jim:
Hmmm, if the problem was the remarks that Summers made referring to women, why would his indulgence offering also include underrepresented minorities?

Look on the bright side; maybe they'll hire a Polish-surnamed faculty member (I'm eligible for that one, too!)
7.11.2005 8:39pm
Its so cynical. "Underrepresented" minorities I have usually found to be code for excluding Asians, Jews, and other "successful minorities" from qualifying for affirmative action programs.
7.11.2005 9:20pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Part of the reason is that $25 million of the settlement negotiations came out of their, don't quote me on the name, Millenium Challenge Fund, which was already allocated to hiring minority faculty members. Redefining the goalposts of exactly who needed to be placated allows you to count that entire $25 million (which you've already committed yourself to spending) against the mandatory indulgence. Of course, it doesn't prevent from endless fractious debates as to who gets the choice slices of the pie.
7.11.2005 9:25pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Ahh, wires got crossed in my brain. The money is from the Outreach Fund. You can find Harvard's description if you just search for it here: .
7.11.2005 9:31pm
Perseus (mail):
I wonder if "conservatives" count as an "underrepresented minority" at Harvard. If so, please tell me where to send my CV.
7.11.2005 9:48pm
TM (mail):
Tell me again, why hiring forty new professors from any category is not a good thing. I'm sure there will be almost as many "represented" professors hired as well.

Isn't more professorships and smaller class sizes a good thing.
7.11.2005 10:30pm
Tumbling Dice (mail):
TM -

In fact, why not open it up to every person with a Ph.D. and have a random drawing of 40? If hiring professors is a good thing, in and of itself, quality really doesn't matter, does it?

the problem is not the hiring of professors, it is the criteria which is being used.
7.11.2005 10:52pm
frank cross (mail):
Perseus, although I don't believe it is a formal policy, it looks clear that Harvard Law School is affirmatively seeking out conservative law profs for visits and hires.
7.11.2005 10:53pm
Tumbling Dice,

So it's impossible to hire quality professors who come from underrepresented minorities.

I understand your argument that their may be better criteria to establish who should be hired as a professor, but to suggest that hiring minorities somehow harms the quality of professors Harvard will have is disingenious.

Again, look at the hiring numbers over the next few years. I'll bet their are just as many represented as underrepresented groups hired. I really don't see how allowing more women and minority professors is a bad thing.

Increasing the variety of speech and ideas, whether it be based on race, religion, sex, gender or politics is a good thing. I don't think Harvard's faculty right now has too many minorities.

I graduate from a "liberal" law school, and even it was predominated by old white men. Greater diversity will lead to a better understanding of the ideas of others as well as your own.
7.11.2005 11:14pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
One problem I see here is that Harvard has made its reputation by hiring the best faculty that money can buy. Now, they are going to hire merely "qualified" faculty of the appropriate gender or preferred minority. Of course, if these additional faculty are given minimal teaching loads, then maybe they can keep up their vaunted quality.
7.11.2005 11:30pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Probably a bit off topic, but I find the whole thing totally rediculous. There is a lot of data out there indicating that there are true sex differences. Not that there aren't some very good female mathematicians, but statistically, the best women there are not nearly as prevalent as the men (and I am related to some). For example, one figure I saw was that at the 700 level, men outscore women 13 to 1 on their math SATs.
7.11.2005 11:46pm
Tumbling Dice (mail):

First, I did not state, nor infer, that it is "impossible to hire quality professors who come from underrepresented minorities."

Your original post stated that you did not see anything wrong with Harvard's decision to only hire one certain sex and to eliminate from consideration an entire race (or races) in their hiring process because "Isn't more professorships and smaller class sizes a good thing."

I was simply pointing out that your argument is that ANY method of picking professors is a good thing because it translates to better teacher:student ratios is, well, absurd.

And in response, you imply that ANY argument against this practice is somehow an argument against hiring more women and minorities. This is a common tactic among the left. You are, however, being a bit more polite about it.

Clearly, contrary to your initial post, which was couched in race-neutral and sex-neutral terms, your support for the policy appears to arise from your desire to have the Harvard faculty have more women and minorities.

Therefore, at the end of the day, the difference between us is that I do not think sex or race of the applicant should be a factor. I think using those factors is a lazy shorthand to reaching the desired outcome.

What insight would a woman bring to the job that a man would not? And please clarify how any argument in support of such a position differs from what Mr. Summers said which lead to this mess.

Additionally, what is it that is sought in an 'under represented' professor? Is the crux of this experience one that only a racial minority could have? I had professors from various backgrounds during law school (and this topic was a very real one while I was in school re: admissions). I don't recall an instance where the professor's background or life experience made more of a difference in my education than that professor's understanding of the law, intelligence, and ability to teach.

It is not a "bad" goal to have more women and more racial minorities among the professorships of Harvard. But there are misguided and "bad" ways to accomplish those goals which undermine them.

I thought there was actually a regular contributor around here (a blogger) who wrote a very lengthy article which studied race based admissions in law school. And if I recall, the conclusions did throw a favorable light on race based admissions policies. Why would a hiring policy be any different?
7.12.2005 1:48am
Tumbling Dice (mail):
sorry, that should be "did NOT throw a favorable light..."
7.12.2005 1:50am
Eric Watson:
So what happened is this:
1. There was a $25 million fund to hire minority professors, regardless of gender;
2. Larry Summers insulted some white female professors;
3. Harvard promised to spend $50 million on hiring white female professors;
4. $25 million was stolen from the pre-existing minority fund instead to hire exclusively white female professors
5. Thus, all this amounted to was an income redistribution from minorities in general to white women in particular amongst the Harvard professoriate.

Wow. Sounds like Justice O'Connor's take on benign racial classifications and affirmative action to remedy historical discrimination.
7.12.2005 6:13am
Bruce Hayden (mail):

I think that it is silly to suggest that Summers insulted some female professors. Rather, some were offended. The traditional definition of "insult" requires intent - it is derived from the old French "insulter", to attack. There is no indication that Summers intented to offend or attacked these women. Rather, they were offended at something that most would not be.
7.12.2005 10:13am
Bruce Hayden (mail):
I indicated earlier that Harvard had the reputation of buying the best faculty that money can buy. Someone else suggested that the $50 million could purchase smaller class sizes. But if this were the major criteria, then Harvard could probably hire at least twice the faculty that it now has at the same cost by firing the profs it currently has (ignoring, of course, tenure issues), and replacing them with faculty that are almost as good. And if you reduced the publication requirement, they could also teach more classes. The result would then be better than half the current class size.
7.12.2005 10:39am
Eric Watson:

I think that it is silly to suggest that Summers insulted some [white] female professors.

Main Entry: [1]in·sult
Pronunciation: in-'s<
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle French or Latin; Middle French insulter, from Latin insultare, literally, to spring upon, from in- + saltare to leap —more at SALTATION
Date: 1540
intransitive senses
archaic : to behave with pride or arrogance : VAUNT
transitive senses
: to treat with insolence, indignity, or contempt : AFFRONT; also : to affect offensively or damagingly
synonym see OFFEND
- in·sult·er noun
- in·sult·ing·ly /in-'s&l-ti[ng]-lE/ adverb

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