Ethnic Studies Turmoil
Faculty split over university's course of action
October 4, 2004 5:04 PM
Many faculty members in the College of Ethnic Studies are calling for the removal of Tomas Almaguer, dean of the college.
A letter dated Sept. 24 was signed by 18 senior faculty members of the college representing every department, except American Indian studies, and was sent to President Robert Corrigan and Provost John Gemello.
The letter obtained by [X]press represents most senior faculty of the college who collectively composed and signed the letter, said Marlon Hom, chair of the Asian American studies department. The letter represents a vote of no confidence by the signing faculty members, who make up about half of tenured faculty in the college.
“This letter says more than anything else the sentiments of the faculty of that college,” said Kim Geron, a California Faculty Association member and professor at CSU Hayward. Geron was an observer at the Sept. 28 SF State union meeting held to address the problems within the college.
The Sept. 24 letter was written in response to a report released over the summer by an independent consulting firm, Diversity Matters. Diversity Matters’ report addressed the tumultuous working environment of the college and recommended the dean be placed on leave while a formal investigation take place.
CFA, whose members include SF State staff and faculty, and the Office Faculty Affairs, responded to Diversity Matters’ report on Aug. 17, asking the university to formally review the dean but not place him on leave, as the Diversity Matters report did.
Some faculty members within the College of Ethnic Studies are dissatisfied with the decision.
“I believe the [Aug.17] letter was watered-down [and] that was relatively soft,” said Daniel Gonzales, an associate professor of Asian American studies, referring to the CFA and Faculty Affairs letter.
During the course of reporting for this story, several reporters attempted to gain interviews with faculty from each department of the college, most of whom declined to comment.
The Sept. 24 letter originating from the College of Ethnic Studies, stated “the undersigned senior faculty in the College of Ethnic Studies, unequivocally state that we have NO CONFIDENCE [in] Tomas Almaguer as the dean of [the] College of Ethnic Studies,” and continued, “[The undersigned faculty] unanimously endorse all the Diversity Matters recommendations and urge [Corrigan and Gemello] to implement them as soon as possible.”
On Sept. 28, a union meeting was held for the faculty of Ethnic Studies to discuss why CFA refrained from requesting that the dean be placed on leave.
The meeting was held for those who “objected strongly to the [Aug.17] letter and didn’t understand that the letter corresponded with almost every major recommendation in the Diversity Matters report,” said Jan Gregory, a CFA member and an SF State English lecturer.
“Some faculty have serious concerns about what they see as a serious disjunction between the two documents,” she added.
The meeting was attended by Mitch Turitz, the SF State CFA faculty union president; Nina Fendel, regional staff coordinator for CFA; Geron; Gregory; as well as various Ethnic Studies faculty.
Wednesday morning after the meeting, Almaguer called the [X]Press office saying a death threat was made against him during the meeting, which he did not attend, but was informed of by a colleague at the meeting. He declined to give the name of the person and comment about the incident.
The police are currently investigating the matter and the police report was not available when this story went to print.
“Somebody said words to the affect of the tension is still very thick and they are not happy with the way SF State is handling the situation,” Turitz said.
“They feel the pressure on the faculty is too much.”
Writing to the President Corrigan in an e-mail about the alleged death threat, Gregory, Turitz, Geron and two representatives from CFA, expressed their concern over what they called a “false allegation.” They wrote, “The frustration that the faculty focused on during the meeting was inaction” and that “this allegation further provides evidence that the climate in the college is not tolerable for anybody.”
Ellen Griffin, interim director of the Office of Public Affairs, said because there is “still no report from public safety about the alleged threat,” she could neither confirm nor deny the incident nor make a statement on behalf of the university.
“We think the ball is in the president’s court in this situation,” said Geron. “The president has to realize there is a crisis and when a leader cannot command respect of the faculty there is a problem.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University