Leading By Example
To the Editor:
As the former dean of the Tucker Foundation, I was (and am) concerned about increasing the level of tolerance and understanding on campus. During my tenure as Dean, Karl Furstenberg and I spoke often about the challenges minority students face, his efforts to recruit a more diverse student body and the need to take a broad view of diversity. Your article of May 17, "Admissions office faced mass exit," defamed through innuendo one of Dartmouth's best.
While condemning by implication the values and performance of the Admissions Office, the article glosses over the extraordinary performance of Dean Furstenberg and his team in recruiting and supporting minority students. Under Dean Furstenberg's leadership, the College has dramatically increased the number of students of color on campus. Indeed, some on campus criticized Dean Furstenberg when he arrived from Wesleyan ten years ago because they thought him too committed to diversity.
Throughout his tenure, Dean Furstenberg has consistently hired the most diverse office on campus. Recognizing the limited possibilities for advancement in his office (a fact that demonstrates the unusually high level of satisfaction and stability among his senior staff), he has nurtured his junior staff and encouraged them to take more senior positions elsewhere when such opportunities have arisen. With each turn of the cycle, Dean Furstenberg has hired an equally diverse cadre to follow.
Last year, the retirement of a senior professional in his office gave Furstenberg his first opportunity in ten years to hire a senior admissions officer. What did he do? He hired Jim Washington, an African-American who had led the admissions office at the University of New Hampshire.
The article makes allusions to alleged discriminatory practices in office management, and yet the only former minority staff member quoted in the article said, "Karl Furstenberg is the best person I've ever worked for. I think he has tremendous interest in diversity and I certainly saw that on a daily basis." Claiming that someone is racially discriminatory is a serious allegation. To do so without compelling evidence is unprofessional.
Those of us who care strongly about fairness have an obligation to speak out in defense of those who are unfairly accused. Rather than letting the reputations of our best people twist in the ill-wind of innuendo, we have a moral duty to support those who have done so much for diversity on campus.