Kagan´s Affirmative Action Achilles Heel

May 10, 2010 fayem1

American Chronicle
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
May 10, 2010

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will plop an issue back on the nation´s table that hasn´t been seen or heard from or about in what seems like ages. And that´s affirmative action. Even before her nomination the word furiously circulated in some circles that during her six year tenure as dean of Harvard University Law School, Kagan had an abominable record on recruiting and hiring minority professors. At first glance, her record indeed looks atrocious. There were 29 new hires. They were 23 white men, 5 white women, and one Asian American woman; not one black or Latino professor in the bunch. When the dismal figure was released, the White House quickly pushed back. It issued a detailed fact sheet that essentially said that her zero hire of a black or Latino faculty member was grossly misleading. That Kagan had offered several African-American and Latino candidates visiting offers; visiting offers meaning invites to be a visiting lecturer. That´s not the same as a permanent offer for faculty spot. But the inference was that a visiting offer, if accepted, could lead to an offer of a permanent faculty position. That didn´t happen. The visiting offers were not accepted. That in itself is not a prima facie case to say that Kagan deliberately pushed diversity to the back burner at Harvard. Or even that she did not make a sincere effort to recruit minority faculty members. There are always factors, big, little and unseen in the business of faculty hires at major, even prestigious, universities. But Kagan´s motives and the effort she may have made to get a diverse faculty at Harvard Law in the end or a moot point. Her record on minority hires still stands– 29 faculty hires, and no black or Latino hires. This is hardly a moot point.

Full Commentary: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/155363

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