Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

ACE Troubleshooter

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

ACE Troubleshooter

Article excerpt

"The isues that we are facing are not ones that will go away, they are long-standing and deeply rooted ... It is our responsibility to exert leadership. So I'm coming in and jumping in with both feet."

Welcome relief and big expectations accompany Dr. William B. Harvey's appointment as head of the Office of Minorities in Higher Education.

When the American Council on Education announced the new head of its Office of Minorities in Higher Education last month, observers said they were getting the best of both worlds -- a respected scholar who is committed to diversity issues and a veteran of the higher education association world.

Currently dean of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. William B. Harvey will assume his position as ACE's vice president and director of the Office of Minorities in Higher Education in July.

Higher-education observers had been waiting to see how quickly ACE officials would move to fill this influential position. The speculation began soon after Dr. Deborah Carter Wilds, deputy director of the office, left to oversee the Millennium Scholars program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in February. Wilds' departure followed that of Dr. Hector Garza, who left to become vice president of a new nonprofit organization, the National Council for Community and Educational Partnerships (see Black Issues, March 16).

Many advocates felt the departures left a void in the association and feared the once-influential office might never return to the heights it once held.

"I was very concerned about the appointment," says Dr. Reginald Wilson, founding director of the office. "It looked like the office was pretty much gutted. This appointment gives me hope. Bill can hit the ground running."

Some, like Dr. Joseph "Pete" Silver, chair of the Black Caucus of the American Association of Higher Education, wrote letters to ACE President Dr. Stanley O. Ikenberry urging him to fill the vice president's position quickly.

Harvey's appointment "calms my fears about the direction ACE was going in," says Silver, vice president for academic affairs at Savannah State University. Silver says many African Americans felt their concerns were being marginalized as higher education associations began to hire more Hispanics and Asian Americans.

"With Bill they've picked a person who is sensitive to all issues related to minority access and concerns," Silver says. "Bill won't be one dimensional."

Great Expectations

When he assumes the job, Harvey will be stepping into one of the most visible and influential posts in higher education. The Office of Minorities in Higher Education was launched in 1981 and quickly became an influential source of information on the status of minorities in education by publishing its report card, the Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education.

So naturally, the expectations for Harvey will be high.

"ACE, as a leading higher education association, insists on a strong voice," Wilson says. "With this current backlash on affirmative action, we need a strong voice coming from ACE in support of diversity."

But most are not worried Harvey will fit the bill.

"He is the ideal person to provide national leadership to increase diversity and opportunity in higher education," Ikenberry says. "He can relate effectively to presidents but also can give us the grass-roots team to mobilize the community in the continuing struggle to provide greater access to a college education."

Harvey says he took the job because he "heard a commitment [from ACE] to help the office and higher education implement proactive and wide-ranging strategies to increase access to higher education."

Making Secondary a Primary Concern

One of those strategies should be to form more partnerships with colleges and elementary, junior and high schools, Harvey says. …

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