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As supporters of the Africana Studies and Research Center (AS&RC) at Cornell University, we stand resolute in our solidarity with the Africana Studies faculty in opposition to Provost Kent Fuchs' brazen and appalling attempts to undermine the Africana Center with a hasty and unilateral decision to reposition this institution—relegating it to the status of a "unit" within the College of Arts and Sciences. We are particularly troubled by the news that this action was taken without consultation with the Africana Studies faculty or an extensive internal or external review that would normally accompany a change of this magnitude. We believe there is simply no justification for such an undemocratic decision; this action reflects a deep disrespect and contempt for the Africana Center and its faculty, students, and staff. The fact that Africana faculty have demonstrated their opposition, and the fact that the Center's Director, Professor Robert L. Harris, Jr., a distinguished member of the faculty, has resigned in protest, should serve as testimony to this ill-advised course of action.
We contend that the quality and effectiveness of the AS&RC as a center of knowledge and the primary force for faculty diversity is rooted in a distinctive relationship to the university, beyond the jurisdiction of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Africana Studies and Research Center was founded as a Center for specific intellectual and pedagogical reasons, and those reasons remain as relevant today as they were more than 40 years ago when the Center was first established. Furthermore, we regard the Provost's contention that his decision is motivated by a desire to increase the Center's faculty and resources toward the establishment of a Ph.D. Program, as hollow and counterintuitive. Those of us who are well-versed in university systems and structures understand that this organizational shift is deeply tied to issues of power, control and financial resources. We understand that although the Africana Center is not fully autonomous, there are significant consequences that will arise from being reduced to department status ("a unit") within the College of Arts and Sciences. In particular, allocation of resources and faculty lines, as well as tenure decisions and other important matters will be subjected to a different process, one that is not likely to benefit Africana Studies in the long-run. Moreover, despite the claims of university administrators, we know that it is not necessary to change Africana's status in order to establish a Ph.D. program. Following the external review in 2006, there was widespread agreement to create a doctoral program in Africana Studies with no discussion of a relationship to the College of Arts and Sciences. It was clear then—as it is now—that resources and faculty lines are the main requirements for the establishment of a Ph.D. program, and there is no reason to deny those resources to Africana as a Center. We stand firm in our opposition to this assault on the status and institutional integrity of the AS&RC, and we strongly urge Provost Fuchs to reverse course and avoid what will surely be detrimental to the quality of educational life and public image of Cornell University.
Leslie M. Alexander, Ph.D., Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
Scot Brown, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
AFRICANA NEEDS YOUR HELP TO RAISE FUNDS TO FIGHT THE PROVOST'S DECISION!!!
PLEASE make checks out to:
and send to:
c/o Professor Robert L. Harris, Jr.
310 Triphammer Road
Ithaca, NY 14853
Watch the Save the Africana Center Action Committee on Friday, March 11
at the Board of Trustees Meetings
The Africana Studies and Research Center http://asrc.cornell.edu/
Check out this video created by Africana alum, Dr. Jared Ball
Read the Black Agenda Report's response to the situation at Africana:
CONTACT CORNELL'S BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND LET THEM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!
Contact Info for Cornell Board of Trustees:
Telephone: (607) 255-5127
Fax: (607) 255-2793
Email the President of the Board of Trustees, Peter C. Meinig at firstname.lastname@example.org