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Letter to the editor by our Faculty of Color

The original copy of this letter, including faculty signatures, is available here.

October 24, 2016

To: Chair of the Board William A. Longbrake, Vice Chairman of the Board Mary A. Neagoy, President Sarah Ruth Bolton, Provost Carolyn Newton

Cc: The Wooster Voice

Dear Colleagues:

We, the undersigned faculty of Color, strongly endorse the Board of Trustees’ announcement “that significantly increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff is urgent, and that doing so is critical to strengthening The College of Wooster,” and we view establishment of the $1 million Reggie Williams and Dale Perry Fund for increasing diversity among College of Wooster faculty and staff as a first step in that campaign.

We believe, however, that these actions alone are insufficient to remediate comments made by one member of the Board of Trustees to student representatives who requested additional support in recruitment and hiring of more minority faculty last Thursday.

Specifically, we reference the following comment:

“Do you want good faculty, or do you want Black faculty? Do you want competent faculty, or Minority faculty?”

It grieves us as educators and mentors that such irresponsible comments were directed at students, who were bravely trying to create dialogue in support of faculty of color and increased diversity at Wooster.

Sadly, we are all too aware that this cannot be regarded as merely isolated talk.

Rather, it is a reflection of a more systemic problem of racial insensitivity and lack of cultural competency, which is hurtful and offensive to the minority communities targeted.

Reconciliation within The College of Wooster family can only come when the leadership of the Board and President Bolton jointly acknowledge publicly and disavow the racially insensitive statements made by this trustee to students in reference to faculty of color at the college.

We also look forward to our Faculty colleagues firmly denouncing such utterances and the mindset they reflect, and to join us in fighting their corrosive effects on our community, especially our students.

In addition to a public apology and reaffirmation of support for faculty of color, we strongly encourage the additional steps be taken by the College to address the challenges faced in creating a campus climate supportive of diversity:

1) Hire a cabinet-level chief diversity officer who reports directly to the President;

2) Increase the number of under-represented faculty to 33 percent within 5-10 years to reflect the demographics of the student body and a culture of equity;

3) Implement a strategic plan to promote cultural competency throughout the campus community;

4) Provide resources, support, and development to aid in the retention of the current faculty of color.

It is important that we clarify that this joint statement serves as a starting point for what we regard as a continuing conversation on these matters.

Signed by:

Ahmet Atay, Associate Professor, Communication and Film Studies

Kabria Baumgartner, Assistant Professor, Department of History

Michael Forbes, Visiting Professor, Africana Studies

Sharon Ferguson, Visiting Instructor, Department of Education

Priyanka Jacob, Visiting Professor, Department of English

Shannon King, Assistant Professor, Department of History

Seiko Matsuzawa, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Amber Garcia, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Lee McBride, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Leah Mirakhor, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Sarah Mirza, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Amyaz Moledina, Professor, Economics Department

Boubacar N’Diaye, Associate Professor, Africana Studies

Olivia Navarro Farr, Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology

Margaret Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of History

Jimmy Noriega, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance

Chan Sok Park, Instructor, Department of Religious Studies

Cynthia Palmer, Associate Professor, Spanish Deparment

Ibra Sene, Associate Professor, Department of History

Barbara Thelamour, Visiting Instructor, Department of Psychology

Rujie Wang, Associate Professor, Chinese Department

Leslie Wingard, Associate Professor, Department of English

Josephine Wright, Professor, Department of Music and Africana Studies

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One Response to “Letter to the editor by our Faculty of Color”

  1. Sharon Lemler says:

    I am writing to support this clearly articulated statement from your faculty. While our daughter received a (mostly) excellent education at COW, one of the shortcomings of the school was the relative lack of diversity of faculty, as well as the study community. She became active in the efforts to increase awareness and promote diversity by working with SAD, but there is still a long way to go. Colleges like COW have a great legacy and history, AND they need to go beyond that legacy and history if they want to remain great.

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