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'Respect for women and minority is key to development of Harvard'

'Respect for women and minority is key to development of Harvard'

Posted March. 24, 2016 07:31,   

Updated March. 24, 2016 18:56

"Respect for differences of gender and race is what made Harvard the way it is today."

Judith Singer, the vice-president of Harvard University, visited Seoul National University (SNU) on Wednesday and gave a presentation on "Why diversity?." On this day, the university held the inaugural conference of SNU Diversity Committee. SNU is the first Korean university that launched such a committee run by the SNU president himself. Singer has been a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education since 1983 and the vice president of Faculty Development & Diversity since July 2008.

During her speech, she emphasized that the history of Harvard University goes along with the history of how the school has extended the value of diversity. "Collective research achievements were much more valuable than individual research achievements," Singer noted. "This is why Harvard values diversity."

Harvard's efforts to pursue diversity can be found in the increasing number of female full-time professors. The first female full-time professor at Harvard was Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, appointed in 1958. In the mid 1990s, 10 percent of full-time professors were female, and the number increased to 271 (26 percent) last year. At SNU, female professors accounted for 14.6 percent of all professors.

Singer also emphasized that university policies should be made in consideration of minorities. She remarked, "When publishing university news magazines, we make special editions for Asian students." The first professor from racial minority at Harvard was African American Martin Kilson, appointed in 1969, and now there are 191 professors (18 percent) from racial minorities.

유원모 기자onemore@donga.com