Harvard University has received more than $45 million from 14 alumni leaders to improve its Asian-American studies program.
The funds will go to academic research, recruiting more scholars in the field, and supporting graduate fellowships to promote growth within the program.
All donors are Asian-American and graduated from the Ivy League school between 1990 and 2003.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay pressed for the initiative “to strengthen the study of ethnicity, indigeneity and migration so that Asian American studies, along with study of the Latinx and Muslim American experiences, can flourish at Harvard.”
“For Harvard to prepare students for lives of leadership and service in a diverse world, to have an impact on issues of public consequence, and to be a truly inclusive scholarly community — personal commitments for me — this work needs to be more fully represented both on campus and in the curriculum,” Gay told the Harvard Gazette.
Harvard vs. Asian-American Students
Harvard was involved in a long-standing affirmative action case filed by Edward Blum and Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), stating that the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants during the admissions process.
Plaintiffs claimed that Harvard admissions officers stereotype Asian-American students, believing them to be “less likable and kind” and lacking in “leadership and confidence,” which hampers their chances of being admitted.
In court documents, the plaintiffs claim that white and Asian-American applicants need a PSAT score of 1350 to apply, while Black and Hispanic students only need 1100. The school vehemently denied these allegations, and the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled against SFFA’s suit last November.
Blum has since submitted the case to the US Supreme Court. The high court has requested the Justice Department’s opinion on the case, signaling that it may be interested in taking it on.