Noguera Speaks of Post at Harvard

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - To some, Harvard University and UC Berkeley are the intellectual jewels of each of the nation's coasts - and this fall, one former UC Berkeley professor has had the chance to experience them both.

Pedro Noguera, famous for making a few shock waves of his own at the UC Berkeley campus over the issue of affirmative action, began teaching at Harvard this fall. In an interview here this month, he says that while he misses his West Coast students, the move east has been invigorating.

Noguera, who taught at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education, says Harvard initially pursued him, but he gladly accepted the change.

"I wasn't looking for a job," he says. "Harvard recruited me. So far I'm enjoying it. I'd been at Berkeley for 19 years, (and) while I loved Berkeley, I felt it would be good for me to be in a new environment. It is a very stimulating place, and that's been good."

Although Noguera says numerous faculty meetings occasionally impede his work, he appreciates the faculty members he has found who share his interests.

"My only complaint so far is that I'm asked to attend a lot of faculty meetings and to serve on several committees," Noguera says. "My concern is how this affects the time I need to write, advise students, teach and work with schools. Everything needs to be in balance. What I really like is that there are several faculty in a variety of disciplines who are doing creative work on issues that I'm interested in."

Asked to compare Harvard and UC Berkeley in terms of academics and student body, Noguera replies that the comparison is difficult to make.

"I can't really answer this question since I'm only teaching graduate students," he says. "So far, I think Berkeley does a better job at providing graduate students with training on how to do research."

Noguera says he misses his UC Berkeley students.

"I had many close relationships with students," he says. "I knew so many people on campus from all walks of life. Unfortunately, (at Harvard) I'm primarily teaching graduate students, so I don't have the same kind of contacts."

When Noguera left UC Berkeley, he attributed his leaving to the lack of minorities on staff, and says Harvard lived up to his expectations of more diversity, including a genuine support of urban public schools.

"It's funny," Noguera says. "Everyone thinks of Harvard as an elitist place. But they have a real commitment to hiring minority faculty. I think it is most significant that minority faculty are not just in traditional departments. I have met lots of people in, for example, law and public policy, and that's very refreshing. I think that it's a shame that Berkeley has not continued to diversify faculty, and I think with (Proposition) 209 it will only get worse."

Nevertheless, Noguera said he still holds Berkeley in a special place in his heart.

"I still love Berkeley," he says. "I have not cut off my ties. When I open the sports page, the first thing I do is to look at how Cal did. I still feel very attached to the community. I feel like I've never left."

Noguera does not exactly want to lure people away from Berkeley, but he says he would like some visitors in Cambridge.

"If the Berkeley undergraduate students are interested in this program, they should come and see me," he says.


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