CAU Graduate Petition

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To the President Robert Johnson, Provost Peter O. Nwosu, Interim Provost Bettye Clarke, and Board of Trustees at Clark Atlanta University:

During the summer session 2016, graduate students in the Humanities Department at Clark Atlanta University heard rumors that Dr. Viktor Osinubi would be demoted as program coordinator by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Unfortunately, the students were disappointed to hear that this rumor was true. This administrative undertaking will negatively impact the matriculation of several graduate students. These actions and others as will be discussed directly violate several core values of Clark Atlanta University: personal accountability, professional accountability, integrity, respect, and ethical behavior. Furthermore, this undertaking undermines CAU’s student-centered culture.

Many graduate students recognize the importance of having a program director who is not only an administrator, but also a scholar who cares about the academic progress of the graduate students at Clark Atlanta University. We believe that Dr. Osinubi should not lose his position as program coordinator because this removal appears more personal than based on any substantive fact of misconduct. The university should not remove a senior tenured faculty member from a position without due process. More importantly, we believe that Dr. Osinubi should be reinstated in his position as director of the Humanities program at Clark Atlanta University.

Dr. Osinubi is currently a senior tenured faculty member who has successfully directed the Humanities program (both graduate and undergraduate) without any administrative assistance. Yet, despite the lack of support, Dr. Osinubi has continued to be an asset to graduate students at Clark Atlanta University. Dr. Osinubi takes on many responsibilities to help ensure the success of graduate students. First, he ensured that the doctoral program transitioned from a Doctorate in Arts (D.A.H) degree to a Philosophy of Doctorate (Ph.D.) degree. Second, he expanded the Humanities program to align with the changes within the discipline by incorporating science within the humanities and additional research methods. Under his direction, the program began to refocus on improving teaching skills in a university setting and humanities research in a modern day context. Third, as part of the initiative to improve teaching skills, he works as an academic chair for graduate students who teach undergraduate students. Because of his vast experience in teaching and scholarship, he is able to provide adjuncts with the knowledge needed to be successful and effective professors in higher education. Fourth, Dr. Osinubi acts as a mentor for graduate students. Many students in the department seek the assistance and guidance from Dr. Osinubi regarding their research endeavors or obstacles in teaching. Therefore, removing Dr. Osinubi as program coordinator will ultimately cause unnecessary disruptions to the matriculation of graduate students in the Humanities department.

There are not many people at Clark Atlanta University like Dr. Osinubi. He believes in the academic progress of graduate students, pushing us to be better scholars. In many cases, he helps with the morale of graduate students at the institution because he does his best to build relationships with students. He understands that graduate students invest their time and money to the institution and, in turn, should receive the assistance needed to successfully matriculate through the institution. In many cases, he intercedes on behalf of the students when many have disregarded or overlooked us. He attempts to fight for us and acts as a voice for graduate students. His motivation inside and outside of the classroom has led to the academic development of graduate students. Demoting Dr. Osinubi would serve as a disservice to the university and the student centered initiative that CAU claims to uphold.

This is not the first time that graduate students at Clark Atlanta University endured the loss of the director of their program. Due to financial constraints to the University in 2009, the University terminated seventy (70) full time faculty due an ‘enrollment emergency’. At that time, the Dean Kirksey Williams terminated Dr. Kamaro Barrow the director of the Humanities program without due process. The graduate students raised and addressed their concerns with the university at that time. However, Dr. Osinubi was appointed to the position and continued the pursuit of the Ph.D. degree that has been initiated by Dr. Kamaro Barrow. He was able to ease the transition for graduate students by meeting with students and listening to their concerns. Since that time, Dr. Osinubi has continued to be an ally and a voice of reason for graduate students. Graduate students can rely on Dr. Osinubi to assist them during their time of need. For example, after the loss of Dr. Josephine Bradley, Dr. Osinubi became the only senior faculty member who stepped up to replace Dr. Bradley as the thesis and dissertation committee chair when all other departmental faculty refused to take on the obligation. It is inconceivable to think that the university would ask graduate students in the program to loose yet another director and effective faculty member.

Aside from the previous losses that the graduates have had to endure, the school hired a Dean who appears incapable of dealing with graduate students. Several graduate students are concerned about her ability to work with graduate students. First, the Dean of Arts and Sciences has created an atmosphere of fear and distrust among graduate students. Many graduate students who interacted with her expressed her lack of professionalism and honesty. In fact, many graduate students fear losing their on-campus teaching positions if they addressed their concerns to the Dean (in meeting or written form). She even questions whether graduate students should teach at the institution. Yet, in any institution with graduate and/or doctoral programs, graduate students often teach undergraduate students as part of their training and this is in fact a requirement of the Ph.D. and D.A.H degree. The Dean places individuals in positions of power that further perpetuate this environment of fear among graduate students in Humanities. For example, Dr. Georgene Bess-Montgomery, the interim chair of the English Department (appointed by the Dean), has threatened to fire adjuncts in the English department that sign this petition.

Second, it is our understanding that Dean Taylor demoted Dr. Osinubi without due cause. This decision clearly reiterates the Dean’s lack of effective decision making on behalf of graduate students because she removed a senior faculty member who works so diligently on behalf of graduate students. These actions by the Dean are indicative of a chair who has committed a serious infraction. However, there was no due cause for removing Osinubi as program coordinator. More importantly, the Dean’s action to remove Dr. Osinubi as program coordinator shows a lack of respect for the integrity of the doctoral program. Dr. Osinubi has worked diligently to ensure that the Ph.D. Humanities program maintains a level of scholarship that trains graduate students to be strong scholars. Replacing Dr. Osinubi with an individual who is not qualified to oversee graduate students proves that the Dean does not intend to maintain the rigorous training completed within the program. The Dean also aims to disregard the SAC accreditation guidelines for conversion from the D.A.H to the Ph.D. degree in order to allow conversion that bypasses the requirements previously approved by SAC. This would threaten not only the accreditation of the program but of Clark Atlanta University itself. A letter is attached to this petition that outlines in more detail the problems associated with the decisions made by the current Dean of Arts and Sciences.

The removal of Dr. Osinubi raises several questions from graduate students. These questions are outlined below:

1. What are the University’s reasons for removing Dr. Osinubi as director of the program?

2. What does Clark Atlanta University recognize as an effective director of the Humanities?

3. What are the academic qualifications needed to serve as director of humanities program?

4. Does the new director understand the complications and differences associated with running two current programs (DAH and Ph.D.) and the conversion policy?

5. Can the new director help students academically matriculate without any holdups due to this transition?

6. Has the new director effectively taught graduate level courses in the past? Is the new director capable of effectively teaching the current graduate level courses usually taught by the director of the program?

7. Does the new director have the authority to administer this Fall and Spring Comprehensive exams to the eligible students? Has the new director taught the humanities classes needed to compose the questions for the humanities portion of the comprehensive exam for the new academic year?

8. Does the new director understand the teaching method utilized in the dissertation consultation and research class?

9. Is the new director capable of and willing to deal with the numerous issues of the current and future graduate students in the Humanities program?

10. What happens with the current graduate students on whose committee Dr. Osinubi serves as advisor or member as the director of the program?

We are seeking one of the following solutions to the current problem:

1. Immediate re-instatement of Dr. Osinubi’s position as Director of the Humanities program.

2. Immediate appointment of Dr. Osinubi as Dean of the Graduate School. As Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Osinubi will remain an advocate for graduate students and will be able to oversee and assist with any issues that may arise.

The graduate students in the D.A.H and Ph.D. in Humanities program are writing this petition with attached letters to share our concerns regarding this new transition. Failure to resolve this issue to the satisfaction of graduate students will result in further action, including public awareness of the current issues at Clark Atlanta University.

Below outlines the signatures and comments from graduate students in the Humanities Program:

“Dr. Osinubi is one of the reasons that I have chosen to continue my education at CAU. Because I entered the program under his direction, I believe that he should remain in the position to provide a stable and consistent environment for PhD students.”

“I am supposed to take comprehensive exams Fall 2016, and I would like them facilitated and graded by Dr. Osinubi.”

“As director of the program, he currently sits as my dissertation advisor. A position he would not hold otherwise. What happens to students in my situation?”

“As the Chair of my dissertation, Dr. Osinubi is very important to my completion of my PhD.”

“I feel an obligation to hold not only myself accountable, but also those individuals who hold positions as protectors and distributors of education responsible, for the possible continuation of such behavior that attempted to hinder my colleagues and my own progress in the completion of our degrees and any behavior that will reduce the seriousness and value of the PhD program.”

“Dr. Osinubi's dismissal as head of Humanities is harmful to the program. He not only knows how to run everything but he has built a rapport with all of us as students. In addition, we have all had many courses with Dr. Osinubi and he has helped up with our research interests and helping us build on our dissertation topics. It is hard enough as black man like myself to find mentors like Dr. O since there aren't many on campus to look up to. I think it is a great disservice to have other faculty being involved in our program when they aren't familiar with us or our research. As a Ph.D. student, we all have limited time for everything and our time is very valuable as we proceed to take comprehensive exams, form a dissertation committee, defend a dissertation proposal and continue working on/finishing a dissertation all with uncertainty about who will support us along the way. As a student in the program I feel like we need consistency not change and Dr. Osinubi represents that balance.”

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