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Walter Leonard Obituary

10/3/1929 - 12/8/2015| Visit Guest Book
Walter Leonard (AP Photo)
Walter Leonard (AP Photo)
Walter Leonard, the administrator who created an admissions process at Harvard University that was a framework for affirmative action, has died, according to The Associated Press. He was 86.

Leonard died Dec. 8 in Kensington, Maryland, of complications of Alzheimer's disease, said his wife, Betty Leonard. The couple lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

In 1971, Leonard was named as a special assistant to Harvard President Derek Bok. Leonard had already worked as an assistant dean and assistant director of admissions at Harvard Law School, where he was credited with increasing the number of black, Latino and female students.

The admissions formula he created for Harvard included race or ethnicity as one of many factors that could weigh in a prospective student's favor. Other universities copied the affirmative-action policy.

"The Harvard model provides a standard," Ronald Dworkin of the New York University School of Law wrote in an essay for "The Affirmative Action Debate," a 2002 book. "If the admissions officers of other universities are satisfied that their plan is like the Harvard plan in all pertinent respects, they can proceed in confidence."

Leonard was born Oct. 3, 1929, in Alma, Georgia. At age 15, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.

In 2011, Leonard and Bok were awarded Harvard Law School's highest honor, the Medal of Freedom.
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Published in The Washington Post from December 13 to December 16, 2015
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Walter Leonard, the administrator who created an admissions process at Harvard University that was a framework for affirmative action has died at 86. For full obituary and coverage from Legacy.com, ... Read Obituary

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