Is Harvard’s Black Studies Now Likely to Lose Ground to Those at Princeton and Yale?

It is often said that Harvard is governed by a rule of exceptions. This means that Harvard announces a lot of rules but it actually makes its decisions according to its exceptions.

For example, Harvard may announce a “hiring freeze” but if it turns out that Princeton and Yale are recruiting a scholar who Harvard desperately wants on its faculty, Harvard will compete for the scholar under its “rule of exceptions.”

Harvard has recently announced a freeze rule in new faculty hirings. But everyone awaits the “exceptions.”

Now what about Harvard’s black studies? Under former president Lawrence Summers, it is clear that Harvard would apply the present freeze rules to black studies. But now the question is, will the exception rule be applied to Harvard’s black studies by current president Drew Faust?

Harvard already has the strongest black studies effort in the world. Will Faust rest on the university’s laurels and suspend faculty hirings in black studies?

We think not. But if it does, the great beneficiaries will be Princeton and Yale. Never has there been a time when so many highly qualified young black scholars are entering the academic job market. Will Harvard allow them to drift to Yale and Princeton?

JBHE asked several black scholars at Harvard to comment on the hiring freeze. It is a delicate issue. We received no responses.