US Senator Scott Brown’s campaign called on Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren Friday to apologize for letting Harvard Law School tout her as a Native American in its attempts to demonstrate faculty diversity in the 1990s.
Warren said she didn’t know Harvard was promoting her that way—until Friday.
“I think I read it on the front page of the Herald,” she told reporters.
Warren’s maternal grandparents both had Native American lineage, her campaign confirmed.
The Boston Herald reported Friday that Harvard had touted Warren’s Native American background as the school faced criticism for a faculty dominated by white men.
In a 1996 article, the Harvard Crimson quoted a Harvard Law School spokesman saying that the faculty of 71 included one Native American --- Warren—in addition to a few black and Hispanic professors and 11 women. Although the “conventional wisdom” was that the law school faculty did not include any minority women, a law school spokesman named Warren as Native American. The claim was repeated by the university newspaper in a 1998 story that called Warren the first woman with a minority background to receive tenure.
The Brown campaign seized on the revelation Friday, with campaign manager Jim Barnett saying Warren should apologize for allowing Harvard to claim she had “special minority status.”
“That Warren allowed Harvard to hold her up as an example of their commitment to diversity in the hiring of historically disadvantaged communities is an insult to all Americans who have suffered real discrimination and mistreatment, and Warren should apologize for participating in this hypocritical sham,” said Barnett.
Warren told reporters that she doesn’t ever recall using her heritage to claim a minority status. A spokesman said she has no plans to apologize for the school’s actions.
“I believe that I was recruited at Harvard because I’m a good teacher, and recruited for my other jobs because I do good work,” she said, adding that she is proud of her heritage.
Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried who was US Solicitor General under Republican President Ronald Reagan and who recommended hiring Warren in 1995, told the Globe Friday that Warren’s heritage was not raised during her hiring.
“I’m sure it didn’t come up,” Fried said. “She’s such a wonderful teacher and such an accomplished scholar [that] it just swamps any such thing.”
John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this reportStephanie Ebbert can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieebbert.