Letter to the Editor

Sounding off on the

Dear Editor,

Your Friday editorial , titled “Diversity: Everyone’s doing it,” is clearly a distortion of the intent and meaning of my letter to President Lefton, asking him to abort the current provost search. What was in the letter that you saw, and most of your readers did not, was the entire list of reasons that the Pan-African Faculty and Staff Association listed for discontinuing the search, namely:

• The process which has led to two withdrawals has eroded the confidence of a large segment of the campus;

• There is a precedent at this university for such, and it is not an uncommon phenomenon for important searches to sometimes be reopened in order to ensure the hiring of the best possible person in the nation;

• We need a more diverse pool – a pool that extends beyond white males;

• Kent State is a major university that deserves and requires a better result than what currently exists.

Further, the letter states: “… This being a national search, and Kent State being a major university in this nation, we feel that this institution should hire the best available person in this large country of ours. Clearly, the lower 50 percent of the finalist pool does not represent that.” To suggest that black people on this campus are only concerned about the issue of “diversity” is to display a very narrow view and total misunderstanding about who we are as academics. We are products of the same educational system and academic tradition that whites are, demonstrating equal intelligence, abilities, training and experience. We have lived in the same country and have embraced the same ideas and concepts as our white colleagues about the importance and meaning of academia.

Our concerns about hiring a provost who can help to bring into existence the university of the 21st century, here at Kent State, that will make the education of students relevant to the world in which they will live; our concern about hiring a provost who will understand what the curriculum of this university should look like in order to establish the type of courses that will provide the proper education for 21st century students; our concern about hiring a provost who will ensure that there is equity and fairness in the tenure, promotion and reappointment process; our concern about hiring a provost who will work to ensure that this state university remains accessible to the broader citizenry of this state, rather than becoming the exclusive property of a handful of so-called “select” youth in this state; and last but not least, our concern that this institution hire a provost who understands and appreciates the historical mission, meaning and ideal of the liberal arts institution in higher education, and its potential for having relevancy in the improvement, progress, and evolution of our society, certainly goes beyond the issue of “diversity.”

This is no time for anyone on this campus, faculty, staff, administrator or student, to be smug, arrogant or elitist, when the future of our university – Kent State University – is hanging in the balance. All of us on this campus should have pride in this institution and sufficient concern and interest to demand that those in authority – and those with the responsibility – hire a provost who is capable of meeting the challenges of this position and who demonstrates, initially, the training, experience and capacities necessary and sufficient to do the job.

George R. Garrison, Ph.D.

Pan-African Faculty and Staff Association president