Sunday, May 22, 2005


The dumbing down of American universities continues apace. Group membership is trumping academic qualifications

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," the committees said, "but in comparison to their presence in the student body of Harvard's ten schools."

Dr. Summers said in a telephone news conference yesterday that Harvard's hiring record last year had been unacceptable. "We have to do better," he said. He called the $50 million an "initial commitment" and said he expected that the university would ultimately devote more resources to attract and retain a more diverse faculty. "Certainly our aspiration is that Harvard be the leader in this sphere and does what is necessary to be the leader," Dr. Summers said.....

Among the initiatives cited with approval by professors were recommendations for helping female and minority faculty members with their professional and personal lives, including giving financial aid for research and day care and helping the spouses of professors being recruited by Harvard to find jobs.

More here


Phrases like “ship shape and Bristol fashion” and “nitty gritty” have been banned at a West Midlands council – after politically correct training consultants branded them racist. The consultants, taken on to talk to members and officers at Wyre Forest Council, brought with them a list of words they said should be outlawed. They claimed both phrases have reference to the slave trade and were therefore taboo.

But the ruling, by Walsall-based Aldridge Training Solutions, has outraged people in the city of Bristol who have branded it a slur on their reputation. The city’s Lord Mayor Peter Abraham today was shocked to hear of the ban. He said he had always understood the term referred to the standard of sailors and ships in the city and pre-dated links with slavery. Mr Abraham said: “I have used the phrase for 60 years and my family has and there is no way it can be regarded as politically incorrect.” Bristol historian Gerry Brooke said: “These councillors have certainly got the wrong end of the stick. Bristol was a very difficult port to work in before its floating harbour was built. “The term comes because vessels built and loaded in the city were always first class in that they were constructed well and their cargoes would not shift about.”

But the 15 council members who attended the council’s equality and diversity meeting were today instructed to stand by the ruling. Wyre Forest councillor Ken Stokes said the terms were now taboo and even apologised for repeating the phrase ‘nitty gritty’ over the phone, apparently a reference to slaves in the lowest reaches of slave ships. He said: “I shouldn’t be saying that anymore after our equality meeting last week. We were told that ship shape and Bristol fashion was meant to refer to black people being ready for sale as slaves. It was a fascinating meeting to attend.”

But Councillor June Salter said: “The political correctness is getting pathetic. “I am not racist and I don’t need to be told how not to be a racist, which is why I didn’t attend.”


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