Letter to the editor

New provost must confront obstacles to racial equality

Dear Editor,

This is a critical time in the history of Kent State – a new president has been hired recently, and now this campus is in the process of hiring a new provost. The entire campus leadership at the highest level is being replaced. This campus cannot afford to replace the leadership in those two positions without careful scrutiny of both the candidates and the process. They will occupy those positions for quite a number of years.

It is crucial that the elected bodies representing the faculty on this campus – Faculty Senate, AAUP-KSU and the Pan African Faculty and Staff Association – engage in the proper discussions and deliberations about the candidates, and pass on to the search committee and president the opinions and best thinking of their members. This input must go beyond the perfunctory exercise of faculty evaluations collected at the end of a candidate forum. Many faculty members do not attend those sessions for a variety of reasons. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of the organizations that represent them to ensure and secure their interest, which is the same as the interest of the campus as a whole, in this important matter.

The president and the provost search committee must take it’s time and select the right person for this position. The search committee and the administration must ensure that this process is open, transparent, fair and without flaws; and this includes the appropriate representation on the committee, as well as meaningful and critical input from the representative groups of the faculty (black and white).

What this campus needs now is a provost that is both competent and progressive. A provost that is competent, but reactionary, will not serve this campus well. Instead, he or she will be a source of much distraction and dissension in the months and years ahead.

Clearly, we do not need more of the same, or anyone who does not have fresh ideas about solving the continuing problems that African-American students, faculty and staff face on this campus.

We also cannot afford to have anyone in this position that is in a state of denial about the problems of institutional racism, racial inequality and inequity at Kent State. The person that occupies the position of provost, at any major university in this nation, not just Kent State, must be someone who can not only think outside of the box, but must be someone who recognizes that there is a door that leads outside of the box, has the courage and capacity to open the door, and on many occasions, steps outside of the box to get a fresh perspective on a problem, and to find non-traditional solutions to the many problems that plague this campus.

We need someone with innovative ideas, who can bridge the chasm of confusion and disagreement on our campus, and who genuinely understands that he or she is not doing black folks a favor by working on the racial issues on our campus. This is a professional, as well as a legal, and moral obligation of the entire administration of Kent State.

This person must be able to work with PAFSA and the Concerned Black Faculty and Staff Association, not just the Faculty Senate and AAUP-KSU. This person must be committed to treating the Department of Pan African Studies with the same degree of consideration and respect, as received by the departments of history, political science, philosophy, school of music, etc. The principals of equality and equity must be clearly understood by whoever is hired as the provost of this university, and this person must be committed to them.

George R. Garrison

President, Pan African Faculty and Staff Association, Faculty Senator AAUP-KSU Member