Elections

Harvard law dean cited ‘affirmative action’ in 1994; Elizabeth Warren’s academic qualifications questioned

Warren, who had been a visiting professor in 1992, championed the student diversity protests, telling the Record that Harvard law students “have exercised power in a very interesting way.”  Citing personal reasons — her husband was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania — Warren turned down that first tenure offer in April 1993, much to Clark’s disappointment.

“I worked very hard on that,” Clark told the Record. “I really wish we could have had a different result.”

Six of the eleven offers of visiting professorships that year went to women. The Record ran a headline on March 18, 1994, reading, “HLS Takes Steps to Bring in Female Profs.”

Warren herself seems to have doubted her own fitness to be a Harvard Law professor. “If you’d told me [I would be granted a tenure offer], “I’d simply have laughed at you and said, ‘What a charming thought! I have as good a chance of flying a rocket ship to the moon,’” she told the Record in February 1993. (RELATED: Geronimo’s great-grandson on Elizabeth Warren: “It’s a shame when somebody’s taking advantage of your identity”)

Warren ultimately accepted the tenure offer in 1995 and encouraged the campus to become increasingly diverse. Adding women to the faculty is “terribly important,” she told the Record, because without affirmative action “think of all the smart and interesting people you wouldn’t meet.”

Now as Warren runs for the U.S. Senate, she downplays her past while claiming the mantle of meritocracy.

“We’re Americans. We celebrate success. We just don’t want the game to be rigged,” she told the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

“We’ve fought to level the playing field before. … Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative.”

Warren’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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This article was updated after publication to correct Harvard Law School Dean Robert Clark’s first name. TheDC regrets the error.