GoFundMe page

Four Black Women Just Made History at Harvard University

Two years ago, there wasn’t a single Black woman heading any of the 14 schools at Harvard University. And now, in 2018, a total of four Black women will be leading faculty departments as Deans for the first time in the 382-year history of the institution.


According to the Harvard Crimson, on Aug. 15, Professor Claudine Gay will become one of four women on campus in a leadership role that’s typically given to older white men. The “one-type-fits-all” is something that can be proven by the portraits sweeping through the hallways of the school, and, fortunately, seems to be a way of the past.

“If my presence in this role affirms someone’s sense of belonging and ownership, then I think that’s great,” said Professor Claudine Gay, who was selected as the school’s newest Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a first for a Black professor at the institution.

Despite underrepresented minorities only making up 8 percent of the university’s faculty, there are three other women currently seated as department heads. They include Bridget Terry-Long, who serves as dean of the university’s Graduate School of Education, Michelle A. Williams, an epidemiologist and professor at the School of Public Health, and Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

“To now be moving into a phase of Harvard’s life where people who don’t meet that profile are now empowered to advance Harvard, it just signals that Harvard is getting ready for a new future for itself and for the country and for the world,” John S. Wilson, who is a noted advocate for the university’s new push to diversify, told Harvard’s publication.

The university’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, said, “Each of these exceptional individuals was selected because they enjoy reputations as distinguished scholars and educators, and because they are widely admired by their colleagues as extremely effective academic leaders”

He further added, “They were selected not because of their race or gender but because they each rose to the top of a rigorous search process.”

But, DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti challenges Bacow to look at the deeper message he’s unconsciously sending when emphasizing the qualifications of the women in order to justify the decision, and by stating the decision wasn’t race or gender based.

“I’m confident no Ivy League president has ever said something about qualifications when making four white male appointments,” Visconti said. “Those women have been painted into a corner. Knowing academic politics, their peers and most of the faculty will probably shun them, instigated by people who perceive they were passed over. I’ll bet all four are somewhere else in a few years.”

Latest News

Syracuse University campus

News Roundup: TV Diversity, Syracuse Hire, and Segregated Training

Check out our news roundup of diversity and inclusion updates and insights from across the U.S.: Syracuse University Creates Athletics Diversity Position  While most colleges and universities around the county are making COVID-19-related cuts in regard to their athletic departments, Syracuse University has hired Salatha T. Willis as the associate athletic…

What Friends Tell Friends: Choose Kaiser Permanente

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Integrated, nonprofit health plan tops NICE Satmetrix customer experience benchmark study for 10th straight year. For the 10th year in a row, more people would recommend Kaiser Permanente to a friend or colleague than any other health plan in the nation, according to the recently released…

Cesar Conde

NBCUniversal Sets Ambitious 50% Diversity Goal for Women, People of Color

Cesar Conde, chairman at NBCUniversal News Group, announced a groundbreaking goal to have a 50% diverse workforce at NBCUniversal, according to Deadline. Conde, the first Latino in this role, outlined his plans in an internal video for employees on Wednesday. The ultimate goal is for NBCUniversal, No. 7 on DiversityInc’s 2020…

Mastercard Expands ShopOpenings.com to the U.S. & Canada, Delivering a Search Tool That Identifies What Stores Near You Are Open for Business

Originally published on mastercardcontentexchange.com. Search solution complements new Digital Acceleration for Small Business global initiative which helps small businesses advance digitally and drive online commerce As businesses seek to draw customers back both in store and online, Mastercard is introducing new tools to support them. Today, Mastercard announced the geographic…

TIAA Launches Programs to Raise Awareness of Racial Injustice and Support Communities in Need through the “Be The Change” Initiative

On June 30, TIAA announced new virtual programs designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and support communities in need as a part of the company’s recently launched “Be the Change” initiative. One is TIAA’s “Race Against Racism,” an effort in support of The Innocence Project which included more than…

Stop TB Partnership and Johnson & Johnson, with support from USAID and The Global Fund, Announce Price Reduction for SIRTURO® (bedaquiline) for Treatment of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Originally published on jnj.com. Joint efforts aim to accelerate scale-up of WHO-recommended all-oral treatment regimens – a transition urgently needed to help protect the health of people with drug resistant-tuberculosis who are particularly vulnerable during COVID-19 pandemic In 2020, the initiative aims to reach at least 125,000 patients and could…

Toyota, Alabama A&M and Huntsville Hospital Collaborate to Make COVID-19 Testing Easier

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. $100,000 grant provides free service to the community Alabama A & M University (AAMU), Huntsville Hospital and Toyota are developing a mobile health clinic initiative to provide free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities in Madison County. Launching later this year, the mobile medical clinic program has…