Elizabeth Warren was listed as a minority professor by a second law school in a report detailing the school's progress in creating a diverse faculty.
In addition to Harvard University, where Warren is on faculty, the University of Pennsylvania Law School also touted Warren as a minority, according to an April 2005 document obtained by The Hill.
“At every law school where Elizabeth was recruited to teach, it has been made absolutely clear she was hired based on merit, on her accomplishments and ability,” said Warren spokeswoman Alethea Harney. “Documents from the college and law school from which she graduated show that Elizabeth did not seek special treatment by acknowledging her Native American heritage.”
The revelation that a second school listed Warren as a minority raised further questions about her claim to Native American heritage and whether it was reasonable for her to represent herself as a minority. Republicans, including Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) campaign, have questioned whether Warren used the claim to further her career — an allegation Warren has repeatedly denied.
Warren has said she was unaware that Harvard had named her as a minority when promoting its faculty's diversity, and said she never brought up her heritage when looking for jobs at Harvard or elsewhere. Warren said she had listed her heritage in faculty directories more than 15 years ago in hopes of meeting others with similar backgrounds.
In a University of Pennsylvania "minority equity report," published in April 2005, Warren is listed as a recipient of the Lindback Award for distinguished teaching. Warren's name is bolded and in italics, which a legend on the report says indicates faculty members who are minorities.
The question of whether Warren's claim to Native American heritage is legitimate has become a major focal point in her Senate race against Brown. Democrats are eager to reclaim the seat they lost to Brown in a 2010 special election, and the race’s outcome could determine the balance of power in a closely divided Senate.
Warren grew up in Oklahoma, where many residents have Native American ancestry. Pressed by reporters on the issue last week, Warren said being part Native American had always been part of her family lore, pointing to the high cheekbones of her grandfather as a reason her family believed it had Native American blood.
Warren has been unable to independently substantiate her claim to the heritage, and does not claim membership in a tribe. A genealogist told the Boston Herald that Warren’s great-great-great-grandmother may have been Cherokee, which would make her 1/32 Native American.
In an attempt to debunk any speculation that she gained an advantage from being listed as a minority, Warren’s campaign has circulated statements from faculty members and deans from universities where she taught attesting to the fact that she was hired solely based on her academic merits.
“Her appointment was based on the excellence of her scholarship and teaching,” read a statement from Stephen Burbank, a former dean at the Penn Law, who was involved in recruiting Warren to join the faculty. “I do not know whether members of the faculty were even aware of her ancestry, but I am confident that it played no role whatsoever in her appointment.”
At the University of Texas School of Law, where Warren taught in the 1980s, an electronic personnel record shows that Warren listed herself as white, and did not check a box indicating she was also Native American. In addition, Warren did not apply for admission to Rutgers Law School under a program for minority students, according to the Associated Press.
Brown’s campaign has called on Warren to “come clean” about her motivations for listing herself as a minority. Earlier in the week, Brown called for the Democrat to release her personnel files and her law school applications, adding that the issue had cast doubt on her credibility.
“As candidates for high public office, we have a duty to be transparent and open and not hide behind a wall of silence in the midst of public controversy,” said Brown.
Warren’s campaign said Brown is feeding “an ugly story and with nasty insinuations” in an attempt to distract from his voting record, his wealth and his contributions from Wall Street.
“The people of Massachusetts deserve better and that’s why Elizabeth is focused on what matters to help middle class families get ahead,” said Warren’s spokeswoman.
— This story was last updated at 7:24 p.m.