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Smith Details FAS Diversity Initiatives Following Report

Mike Smith at Convocation
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith detailed various ways FAS is working to promote diversity in an emailed message to FAS affiliates Thursday, following the Tuesday release of the final report of a University-wide task force on diversity and inclusion.

The report, which is the final product of the 55-member Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, discusses and recommends initiatives to promote “many dimensions of diversity” across the University, such as enhanced mental health resources, retention of faculty, and pipeline programs for staff.

In his email, Smith praised the work of the task force.

“The Task Force did thoughtful and thorough consultation, engaging each of Harvard’s Schools to learn from all their many programs and approaches, structures and committees, challenges and successes,” he wrote. “Their report speaks eloquently to what we have long known to be true: that academic excellence requires diversity—of perspectives, methods, and experiences.”

Smith also called the report and the University’s diversity initiatives “a long-term project, one that stretches into our past and that must continue in every generation.”

“I am enormously proud of those who have helped to shape the Harvard of today and are impatient for us to be the Harvard of tomorrow," he wrote. "Those efforts bring about the reinvention that is essential for an institution to remain vibrant, even after hundreds of years in service to our mission."

Smith included several examples of ongoing FAS initiatives intended to promote inclusion and belonging, such as improving diversity in the faculty recruiting process.

“Persistent attention to diversity, at every stage of each faculty search, is a constant theme in our search policies and procedures, and in conversations between the deans and departments, and within departments and search committees,” Smith wrote.

The initiatives listed in Smith’s email span the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Division of Continuing Education.

These initiatives include the hiring of two Diversity and Inclusion Fellows by the GSAS Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs earlier this year, a new pre-orientation program for first generation students at the College, and an upcoming SEAS-wide “BRIDGE Week” that will “celebrate diversity in STEM.”

Smith also wrote that FAS human resources facilitated workshops for coaches and other athletic department affiliates between January and March, following a 2017 “culture review” of the department.

Smith wrote the initiatives in his email comprise “just a small sample of the efforts happening across the FAS.”

“Overall, we will continue efforts to reflect the issues and priorities highlighted by the Task Force in our strategic planning and assessment activities,” he wrote. “You will hear more over time from the Schools and units of the FAS in the course of their work.”

Earlier this month, Smith announced he would step down as FAS dean at the end of the academic year, as he wraps up his 11th year in the position. In an email to Harvard affiliates Thursday afternoon, President-elect Lawrence S. Bacow announced an FAS Dean Search Advisory Committee and called for the input of Harvard affiliates on the search.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at angela.fu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22

—Staff writer Luke W. Xu can be reached at luke.xu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @duke_of_luke_.

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