Entries in Native American (2)


Elizabeth Warren Admits Telling Employers of Native American Heritage

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After weeks of controversy, Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said on Wednesday night that she did indeed tell the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University that she was Native American.

But she stipulated that the notification occurred only after she was hired by the two schools.

“I let people know about my Native American heritage in a national directory of law school personnel.  At some point after I was hired by them, I also provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard,” Warren said in a statement.  “My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it, and I have been open about it.

The statement marks the first time Warren has explicitly stated that she self-identified as Native American to the law schools where she has been employed.  The controversy began last month after a 1996 article from the Harvard Crimson surfaced in which Warren was referred to as a minority faculty member by a spokesman for Harvard Law School.  Warren had previously said that she did not know Harvard had touted her as such.

Warren has received a great deal of criticism since the story first emerged, in large part because no documentation has been found to back up Warren’s claim that she is indeed of Native American ancestry. 

Warren’s great-great-great grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was referenced as Cherokee Indian on her son William Crawford’s 1894 marriage license application, a 2006 family newsletter showed.  The document itself was not an actual marriage license, and it has not been located, according to genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Warren also addressed the questions surrounding the lack of documentation in her statement.

“Growing up, my mother and my grandparents and my aunts and uncles often talked about our family’s Native American heritage.  As a kid, I never thought to ask them for documentation -- what kid would? -- but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a part of who I am and part of my family heritage,” she said.

It is not clear if the drawn-out story of Warren’s heritage has yet damaged her candidacy.  Recent polling shows the Harvard Law professor in a virtual tie with incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Elizabeth Warren Controversy: How Do Law Schools Make Hiring Decisions Anyway?

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has had a rough couple of weeks on the campaign trail as questions continue to swirl about why she listed herself as a minority in law school directories  in the 1980s and ’90s.

Warren,62, has maintained that she identified herself as a minority to meet other people like  herself. Warren is one-thirty-second Native American, genealogists said. Republicans have accused Warren of using this minority status to receive special treatment in hiring.

But controversy around Warren has  raised another question: What exactly does go  into law school faculty hiring decisions?

Law schools have changed drastically from the 1970s and ’80s, when Warren was beginning her career. The field  is now much more constrained, but during the early days of Warren’s career, law schools were frequently looking to find rising stars.

“Schools were typically searching both broadly for people that they were predicting would be excellent scholars and teachers,” said Susan Westerberg Prager, CEO and executive director of the Association of American Law Schools. “They were also searching in whatever specific subject matter areas they had needs in.”

Prager, a former dean of UCLA law school, and one of the first female law school deans in the country, said schools were also looking to hire more women.

“Until changes began in the ’70s, to say the field was dominantly male doesn’t even make it apparent at how dominantly it was male,” Prager said.

Prager, who said she was a registered independent, acknowledged that racial diversity had also traditionally been an important law school hiring consideration.

“A number of schools, beginning in the late ’60s, became concerned about diversifying their faculty, both with respect to gender and race,” she said, but the hiring criteria differed from school to school.

Those familiar with law school hiring said that in general, entry level hiring decisions were likely to be based more on the candidate’s  academic background, whereas later on, particularly when it came to tenured positions,  the body of work was most important.

“By then you see a body of work where you’re acknowledged by peers in the field,” Prager said.

“Every school that aspires to be more and more recognized …  that’s a very big factor. The entry level hiring-people are making predictions about how will this person pan out? But they have the years to tenure to decide whether they’re developing well, and evaluating teaching and scholarship.”

Warren graduated from Rutgers School of Law- Newark in 1976. While at Rutgers, she served as editor of the law review.  Prager said  that she did not know Warren, but that she had heard through colleagues over the years  that Warren was a star in her field.

“My predecessor at UCLA, I can remember him talking about Warren, telling me about what a star she was,” Prager said. “This is long before this would have crept into any popular acknowledgement. She was well established from a young age.”

Warren was listed as a minority in AALS directories from 1986-1995. Prager said that the means of collecting data had changed over the years, and different schools had handled data collecting differently, making it difficult to determine when and where Warren might have checked herself as minority.

“AALS collects information for the directory from deans of AALS member schools and from faculty, and, as you can imagine, how the organization has collected this information has changed over the years,” Prager said.

“The hiring picture is often highly influenced by what people need to staff in their programs and the accomplishments of the people they’re looking at,” she said. “The quality of teaching and research are the dominant factors in these decisions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio