Higher Ed

This week in higher ed: Feb. 6, 2013

University News Editor
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Questions of administrative diversity surface at Penn

The opinion pages of the Daily Pennsylvanian have over the past week hosted a multifaceted debate about the racial diversity — or lack thereof — of Penn’s administrative leadership.

Last Wednesday, a group of six senior African Studies faculty members wrote a guest column lambasting what they called President Amy Gutmann’s failure to install any racial minorities in deanships during her tenure, which began in 2004. Though Gutmann has made public commitments to diversity at Penn, the professors wrote, “her stated vision for a more diverse administration and faculty at the university has yet to be matched by actions taken by her and those she has appointed.”

The faculty members highlighted an annual dinner Gutmann holds for minority faculty members as an example of the “cosmetic” dedication to diversity they said her presidency has favored over substantive change.

In the following days, responses in the Daily Pennsylvanian followed from the Faculty Senate chair, the chair of the Board of Trustees and an alum, all of whom defended Gutmann for what they described as a genuine commitment to diversity and her progress in diversifying the student body.

Gutmann responded Thursday with an open letter in the paper highlighting her initiatives — including a $100 million initiative to boost faculty diversity — while acknowledging that, in the area of administration, “progress has been slow and … we need to work ever harder.”


One percent of Harvard undergrads forced to withdraw in cheating scandal

The Harvard cheating scandal that gained national media attention last summer came to a conclusion Friday, when Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Smith announced in a campus-wide email that about 70 students were forced to withdraw temporarily last semester, the Crimson reported last week.

The number represents about 1 percent of the undergraduate student body, the Crimson reported. The announcement came after widespread publicity about the controversy surrounding a take-home final in a government course, “Introduction to Congress.” Harvard’s Administrative Board investigated roughly 125 cases of possible cheating, with slightly over half ending in forced withdrawals, the Crimson reported.

The university’s handling of the scandal has prompted disapproval from some quarters, including the investigated students, parents, alums, donors and former Dean of the College Harry Lewis, who criticized the length of time the proceedings took and what he described as the poor instruction of the course, the Crimson reported.

Harvard administrators have said they publicized the case in order to spur campus dialogues about academic honesty, and they have proposed new recommendations for faculty members about how to avoid cheating, the Crimson reported. They have also proposed establishing an honor code.