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Harvard civil rights group headed to LA

The Civil Rights Project at Harvard is moving to the University of California at Los Angeles, along with its director, Gary Orfield, depriving the university of a prominent voice in the national debate about racial justice.

The 10-year-old center, which Orfield cofounded at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, has produced reams of influential research on inequality, particularly in education -- on the resegregation of schools, for example.

"I have been offered an extraordinary opportunity to continue and expand the work of the Civil Rights Project, at UCLA, in a setting of great interest for the future of race relations and civil rights," Orfield wrote in an e-mail notifying colleagues last week.

Orfield will be on leave from the education school starting next semester.

He wrote that it has been difficult to run the center by himself without the cofounder, Christopher Edley Jr. He left three years ago to become dean of UC-Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. Orfield also said he would have several colleagues at UCLA with substantial experience in civil rights work.

Orfield recently married a California education scholar who has worked with the Civil Rights Project. Patricia Gandara will join him at UCLA.

Michael Rodman, spokesman for Harvard's education school, said the school will continue to do a lot of work on inequality, diversity, and the achievement gap in education.

"While Gary's departure is a loss, our commitment to this issue remains unchanged," he said.

Marcella Bombardieri can be reached at bombardieri@globe.com.

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