by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
A controversy and confrontation that has been brewing under the surface is about to come to a head. It has been roiling since President Edison O. Jackson stepped down from Medgar Evers, and his mantle was passed on to William Pollard, who now serves as its current president.
In assuming the position of president, it is natural for the new executive to make some changes in order to brand the college under his leadership. It is natural, also for them to bring in new programs that would enhance what the college has to offer.
What is not natural is for a Black college president to come into an environment where the students and faculty are predominantly Black, and lay waste to programs that have been of benefit to the Black student body and surrounding community. However, over the past year, this appears to have been Pollard's scorched campus policy. He has evicted Dr. Divine Pryor, founder of Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, an outreach program that helped ex-offenders get back on their feet. And has sent letters of eviction to what can only be called Brooklyn's African American Think Tank.
Thus far the following people have been either sent termination or eviction notices:
Hon. Roger L. Green, Founder and Executive Director of the DuBois-Bunche Center, was appointed a Distinguished Lecturer at Medgar Evers College within the City University of New York in 2006. From 1981-2005 served in the New York State Assembly, and was an expert on educational reform; children and family policies. chaired the Committee on Science and Technology, and the Committee on Children and Families. A longstanding advocate of civil and human rights, Green was MEC’s professor of Public Administration, bringing to the students his vast array of knowledge and experience. The DuBois-Bunche Center for Public Policy is in jeopardy of being excised from the campus, as are the founding members who are integral to the organization.
John Flateau, Ph.D.: Professor of Public Administration, received his Ph.D in American Politics and Public Policy from the City University of New York Graduate Center. He served as Chief of Staff to Mayor David Dinkins; Senior Vice President of the NYS Urban Development Corporation; Dean of the School of Business, and Dean of Institutional Advancement at Medgar Evers College. He also served as a Commissioner, of the NYC Districting Commission; Advisor to the NYS Legislative Advisory Task Force on Demographics and Reapportionment; Chairperson of the US Census Advisory Committee on the African-American Population; and Executive Director of the NYS Black and Hispanic Legislative Caucus. He is a generalist and strategic thinker, with expertise in urban policy, economic development, voting rights, legislative redistricting, census demographics, campaigns and elections, diversity management, and governmental processes (whether or not Dr. Flateau is on the hit list remains to be seen, however, MEC's Black Think Tank is definitely under siege).
(NOTE: to their credit both Green and Flateau worked to resolve the problems in Albany under Governor David Paterson, as well as providing advice on an ongoing basis on State, City and National issues.)
Hon. Major Owens served as a member of Congress representing Central Brooklyn from 1983 to 2005, and brings a wealth of expertise. Former New York City Commissioner, and a NY State Senator. Congressman Owens is widely respected for his lifelong commitment to reduce poverty in the United States and throughout the developing world. He is also respected for his legislative leadership which fought to eliminate barriers to educational opportunity. His position appears to be safe for now. But with the lack of insight on the part of the current Administrator, I wouldn't turn my back or relax if I were him.
Zulema Blair, Ph.D.:was Chair of MEC's Public Administration Departmentin 2007. Dr. Blair’s focus is organizational theory and it’s applications to public administration. She has produced research which studies low income populations and their participation in the political process. Dr .Blair directs the American Democracy Project at Medgar Evers College. Dr. Blair was not returned as chair of her department.
Hon.Ambassador Eugene Pursoo became a Distinguished Lecturer at Medgar Evers College. after serving with distinction as the United Nations Ambassador and Permanent Representative with plenipotentiary powers for Grenada, from 1991 to 1995. During his tenure at the United Nations he was elected Vice President of the General Assembly in 1993, Chairman of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, and Chairman of the Organization of Small Island States in 1994. He earned his Bachelor's and Master’s degrees from Fordham University. Ambassador Pursoo is the Director of the International Affairs Center. He as been commited to the mentoring of students and scholars who seek to advance diplomatic approaches for the expansion of peace and justice throughout the World Community. His contract was not renewed. Why????
Divine Pryor, Ph.D. has established a national and international reputation as an expert in the field of criminal justice reform .Before receiving his undergraduate degrees and a Ph. D. in forensic psychology Dr. Pryor was incarcerated for several years. In the tradition of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz), Dr. Pryor rediscovered his love for learning and a passion for justice during his incarceration and developed a commitment to reverse the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison. Dr. Pryor has served on the National Re-entry Policy Council for the Council of State Governors board of directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Community Justice Center. Nu Leadership is the only organization in the nation that was founded and is currently directed and staffed by formerly incarcerated individuals who possess advanced degrees (masters, doctorates) in the areas of criminal justice reform. Pryor's eviction from MEC was covered on WRKS-FM, where he revealed that Pollard had begun to dismantle many of the programs that had been successfully serving the community for nearly 20 years.
During the selection of MEC's next president, a search committee had narrowed the candidates down to three women. They were all extremely competent, heavy hitters. Any one of them would have been a wonderful choice for the campus. Dr. Pollard was not initially on that short list, and was only added at the last minute. Each of the candidates had to participate in a public hearing, where the community had an opportunity to ask key questions to ascertain which of the candidates appeared to have MEC's wellbeing and expansion at heart. Dr. Pollard's answer was the least satisfactory. In fact, if memory serves, Dr. Pollard did not appropriately or adequately answer the question.
After the final interview session, the consensus was that any one of the three female candidates would have been an excellent selection, and would lead MEC into the 21st century. Imagine the shock when it was announced that Pollard was given the position. At the time it was conjectured that perhaps individuals had used undue influence (and threats) to bring get him the position. There were several of us who were not happy with the selection.
Those of you who remember your Roman mythology still remember the Trojan Horse. In the story, a beautiful horse was led into a community. The people accepted it as a gift. They took it inside their gates, and begin to "rejoice" over such a wonderful present. However, while they slept through the night, soldiers, killers, evil intentions climbed down out of the horse and invaded the community, catching the citizens unawares and destroying all that they had developed.
We are now facing a modern version of the Trojan Horse, and we need to wake up before it's too late. The faculty and staff of Medgar Evers are beginning to take steps, as well as elected officials and national figures. The evisceration of Medgar Evers will not be tolerated. The policies could reverse all that has been accomplished and put MEC back to pre-Edison Jackson days. Medgar Evers belongs to the Black community of Brooklyn, and it's up to the community to make their voices heard.
The divide and conquer methods that were the basis for our being sold into slavery and brought here over 400 years ago, is still in effect in this situation. If the Brooklyn community continues to sleep on this, they may well find they no longer have a Black college in Brooklyn.
Below is a resolution from the Faculty and Staff of Medgar Evers College. Please print, post and pass it on. Make sure your neighbors and your children know what's going on, and that you lend a voice to speaking out against Pollard's and Johnson's policies.
Medgar Evers is considered to be a predominantly Black college, and the only one of its kind in New York. Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania is the only Historically Black College/University in the North. Both were formed because of a need to provide the Black community with quality education. Of all the colleges in the City University system, MEC is the only college whose policies were determined by the Brooklyn Community.
Brooklyn has stood out unique in the world as being the only community that actively participates in the direction of Medgar Evers. A privilege and a right that may well be under threat at this point.
This is the beginning for the battle of the soul of Brooklyn and the well and expansion of Medgar Evers. While it is hoped that things can be resolved amicably, it must be made clear that the Black community will not allow MEC to be destroyed.
STAY BLESSED &
MEC FACULTY RESOLUTION FOLLOWS:
Resolution on President’s and Provost’s Leadership & Management of College
December 7, 2010
Whereas, the faculty of Medgar Evers College has attempted unsuccessfully to
engage the administration (Office of the President and Provost) into collegial
dialogue regarding the affairs of the College, and
Whereas, the faculty of Medgar Evers College has observed and obtained evidence
of the egregious acts by the Office of the President and Provost listed below, to wit
1. Administration, as represented by the Offices of the President and Provost
demonstrate poor or questionable leadership decisions with regard to effective
governance as ratified by the faculty and PSC, ex.
President’s failure to Chair Personnel and Budget Committee as required by
College’s governance plan (this committee is chaired by President as defined by
Governance Plan and oversees reappointments, appointments, promotions and
Irregularities in protocols for College Wide Personnel & Budget Committee
Provost’s confrontational and dictatorial style with faculty, students and staff
Dissemination of notices of non reappointment to faculty, staff and CLTs via
security guard, email, and visits to classrooms and offices.
Questionable non reappointments of faculty and College Lab Technicians. (CLTs
perform highly skilled tasks such as lab work, computer work and provide support
for administrative and academic units. CLTs follow a tenure track).
Irregularities in the process by which faculty and staff reviews were voted on in
No announced Master plan or direction for MEC, after an entire year. The
college-wide assessment report and recommendations were never shared
Removal of Chair of Education for spurious and unsubstantiated reasons. (Per
PSC Contract, Chairs in CUNY elected by faculty not appointed by President and
Provost). Chair of Education had been elected by faculty in department for 3 year
Citing of “budget” as rationale for reduction of services but hiring of additional
administrators and consultants.
Lack of transparency and lack of communication with respect to the search for the
Provost’s statement that a reduction in adjunct costs will provide OTPS for
President and Provost more concerned with initiatives such as getting an athletic
field than with providing support for resources to support student instruction,
tutoring, and scholarships and faculty hires and professional development.
2. Administration, as represented by the Offices of the President and Provost
demonstrate a discrepancy between their declared student-centered philosophy and
activities that undermine and mitigate against student success by removing support
mechanisms and faculty resources integral to student success. Data reveal that MEC
student satisfaction with academic support services is substantially lower than
CUNY average. Removal of support mechanisms and faculty resources include,
Elimination of Writing Center.
Elimination of Center for Teaching and Learning
Reduction of tutors in Learning Center budget
Reduction of staff in College’s library
Reduction of staff in Student Computer Lab
Reduction of resources and research opportunities for Psych Lab.
Blocking of funding supporting faculty/student research and the mission of the
Refusal to fill faculty positions in academic departments (yet hired high level
Ending the position of NCATE Coordinator while Department is involved in
Elimination of the position of Pre-Med Advisor in January 2010. Numerous MEC
students have been accepted to Medical schools over the years, some to MD/PhD
program, because of the work of the pre professional advisor. When students
confronted Provost re: this, he stated that “to his knowledge there was never
anyone who had the title of pre-med advisor at MEC, and that students could not
have a letter from a pre-med committee nor a pre- med advisor since the school
never had neither one. This is a direct misrepresentation of the facts; the College
has had a pre professional advisor since 1975.
Withdrawing of reassigned time for Coordination of Writing. The composition
classes in the English Department are service courses that serve close to 2,000
students (70+ sections) per semester. The Coordinator is responsible for
developing common midterm and final exams; norming sessions; cross grading
sessions; faculty development workshops; orientation for new faculty; securing
grants and serving as liaison to other CUNY colleges. Coordinators in all CUNY
campuses have reassigned time.
3. Poor Leadership and Management Skills of the President, contributing to poor
morale, questionable legal activities, and institutional demoralization, as evidenced
Rigid viewpoint and inability to entertain or appreciate alternative perspectives
Poor relationships with elected officials ( demonstrates a dismissive attitude, and
has portrayed elected officials as “interfering,” and having “too much influence
in the College”)
Questionable appointments of additional administrators in midst of a severe fiscal
Lack of Diversity in President’s Administrative Senior Leadership Team (all Vice
Presidents are males.)
Failure to meet with senior faculty and student leaders – only responded after
CUNY Central and elected officials’ intervention
Inability & failure to hold College Council meetings (cancelled two meetings in
Fall and failed to get quorum in Spring at three meetings in 2009-2010 AY. Has
only held one meeting in current year and subsequent meeting cancelled because
of failure to document membership of council and thus did not have a quorum.)
Holding of Town Hall meeting for faculty during last week in May –few faculty
Holding governance plan meeting in summer when faculty and students are on
Holding of Retreat in summer without key administrators, e.g, Deans.
Lack of Understanding of Funding and Grant Initiatives
Leadership team’s lack of understanding of the nature and process for obtaining
multiple streams of funding from public and private sources;
Leadership’s team blocking of funding opportunities and funding obtained- Nu
Leadership, NIH grant and STEP grant, SPCD Programs
4. Poor Leadership and Insensitivity of the Provost
Irrational and explosive behavior that is unbecoming of an academic leader.
Questionable non reappointments of faculty and College Lab Technicians (CLTs)
(reasons for non-reappointment were not provided to Chairs)
Blocking of funding supporting faculty/student research and the mission of the
Lack of respect for the academic knowledge and expertise of faculty (disparaging
and reductive attitude towards faculty scholarship, leadership and counsel in
matters of academic affairs)
Removal of support mechanisms and faculty resources integral to student success,
e.g., the Writing Center and Center for Teaching and Learning.
Accusations that faculty are responsible for low retention rates and performance
of students when most recent data indicate that student satisfaction with faculty is
higher than CUNY average with respect to quality of course performance, ability
of faculty to communicate clearly and frequency of faculty feedback on course
5. Administration, as represented by the Offices of the President and Provost,
demonstrates a lack of commitment to the “community–oriented” mission of
Medgar Evers College and to Central Brooklyn and its residents, as evidenced by
Lack of institutional memory.
Continual statements referencing the need to change the mission without
demonstrating an understanding of the special niche of Medgar Evers and the
integral nature of Medgar Evers College to all community entities.
Disregard for relationship and value of the Centers to the mission of MEC
Eviction of Center for NuLeadership
Disregard for role of Center for NuLeadership in serving as advocate and resource
for formerly incarcerated individuals in college and community.
Refusal to recognize Center for NuLeadership as Center in College although the
Center is highly regarded in CUNY and nationally, has been functioning as a
critical Center for the last six years and was formerly approved by the College’s
Ignoring of Harry Belafonte’s offer to work with President in resolving Nu
Removal of Carver ATM machines & substitution of Citibank ATMs. Issue of
Carver Bank’s removal from campus still not resolved.
Lack of an understanding of the value of a comprehensive college for students.
Pays “lip service” to support of Medgar Evers College’s Preparatory School.
Despite awards and accolades from College Board, Department of Education and
President Obama, the Administration has withdrawn support for the Medgar
College Preparatory School’s Dual Enrollment Program.
Use of questionable and erroneous data as a justification for changing the mission
Attempt to change the venue of commencement and cancel Jazzy Jazz series
without consultation and understanding of the importance of these programs to
students and the community. (Reinstitution of these programs only after student
and community protest).
Lack of awareness of the importance of Medgar Evers’s role in helping to sustain
Black institutions that support and serve the students and residents of Central
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Faculty of Medgar Evers College do
affirm a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the current Administration, and
specifically, in the Office of the President, Dr. William A. Pollard, and in the Office of the Provost, Dr. Howard Johnson.
A vote of no confidence by the faculty signals to the college leadership and CUNY Board that there is a major lack of confidence in the leadership of the college and that actions must be taken.
The time to act is now before it's too late.
Stay Blessed &