Interim Dean to Head Ethnic Studies Program
Monteiro Named Acting Dean of Ethnic Studies
October 18, 2004 3:25 PM
Kenneth Monteiro, former dean of human relations and a professor in the psychology department, is acting dean of the College of Ethnic Studies after Tomas Almaguer resigned Oct. 7.
Monteiro was asked by SF State President Robert Corrigan to fill the seat vacated by Almaguer whose resignation came months after a report from Diversity Matters recommended he be placed on leave.
Monteiro, who has worked with many faculty members of the college, accepted the president’s offer, which came into affect Oct. 13. Corrigan announced Almaguer’s resignation to the Academic Senate and Ethnic Studies faculty in two separate meetings Oct. 8.
According to a letter from Provost Jim Gemello to the College of Ethnic Studies leadership, Almaguer will return to “his tenured position as a full professor of Ethnic Studies" work on the “completion of a book for which he is under contract with the University of California Press.” Gemello also wrote that Almaguer will “pursue his scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley, where he will be a Visiting Scholar in the Center for Latino Policy Research and the Comparative Ethnic Studies Department.”
The Oct. 13 letter also addressed whether the recommendations in the Diversity Matters report will continue to be implemented.
“Two recommendations addressed the needs of the faculty and the College as a whole, and we will move ahead on them,” Gemello wrote. “The first calls for creating a broader based ‘leadership group’ in the College to address specific ways to effect climate change…and the second for engagement of a consultant experienced in conflict resolution to work with faculty to ease tensions and help foster positive collegial relationships.”
Monteiro, who said he was surprised by Almaguer’s resignation, will have the task of finding a new permanent dean of the college, a process he expects to take about two years. He also said that despite being familiar with the faculty and college, “I need to come in very open and help the faculty realize and rediscover core values and a vision” for the College of Ethnic Studies.
Over the next two weeks, he said, he will meet every staff and faculty member in the college. After introductions, Monteiro and faculty members of the college will start a one year process designed to focus on the college and “re-clarify what we’re about and put the focus on what we’re becoming,” Monteiro said.
This is necessary, he said, because it ensures that all faculty members will be able to answer questions throughout the search process with some continuity and unity. When asked what he will tell a potential candidate about Almaguer’s resignation, Monteiro said, “I would encourage that person to talk with the former dean because [Almaguer] knows what his experience here was.”
In terms of the past conflicts within the college and the Diversity Matters report, Monteiro said simply, “I want to be able to tell them how we handled it.”
While he could not comment on why he was chosen by the president to be the college’s acting dean, Monteiro did say that he was experienced in dealing with faculty complaints across campus and he has a great affinity for the College of Ethnic Studies.
The qualifications he and the college faculty will be looking for in a new dean have yet to be decided, Monteiro said. “[Potential candidates] need to be experienced in terms of diversity and culture [and] just being a member of one group isn’t experience enough. [They] need an understanding in the academics, politics, and social layers between each community.” He added that “the College of Ethnic Studies is playing out what is happening in America, San Francisco and SF State.”
Moreover, for the faculty involved this represents another step in building the future of the college.
“I was disappointed by the announcement and I believe that the conflict could have been addressed through the provost’s recommendations,” said Joanne Barker, assistant professor of American Indian studies, referring to Almaguer’s resignation. “We support the interim dean and are working with each other, the president, the provost and are moving forward.”
“I’m looking forward to the future – another chapter in the college,” said Marlon Hom, department chair of Asian American studies.
This presents an opportunity for the college to be “stronger than before,” said Hijolepochtli, a third year graduate student in Ethnic Studies who asked to be quoted by his indigenous name. Many faculty members are now more relaxed since the dean’s resignation, he said, and this presents a clean slate for the college. He added that graduate students are planning a festival for the spring to showcase the college’s literary contributions, indigenous music and workshops.
Mostly important, Hijolepochtli said looking for a new dean offers an opportunity for graduate students to be involved in the hiring of the new dean through a student representative on the hiring committee.
“We want to reunify and work on what the college should be like,” he said.
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