April 4, 2011

Letter to the Editor: A University deception

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To the Editor:Re: “Africana Budget to Increase Substantially,” Cornell Chronicle, March 31Provost Fuchs’ statement in the Cornell Chronicle on Thursday egregiously misrepresents me and severely impugns my integrity.  The article reports that the Provost “… requested from the College of Arts and Sciences and the director of the center a five-year plan, which was submitted in early March.” On January 5, 2011, I wrote to Vice Provost Alice Pell that: “I do not have support within the Africana Center to engage in such discussions [with the College of Arts and Sciences] at this juncture. Unfortunately, I think that we are at an impasse. The Africana Center faculty will meet at the beginning of the spring semester and only with their permission will I engage in budget discussions.”  I have maintained that position and made it clear that I could not discuss a budget within the context of a move into the College of Arts and Sciences.It is disingenuous for Provost Fuchs to say that he has reviewed a budget proposal with me. I have discussed our budget for the 2011-2012 academic year with Vice Provost Pell, and as Provost Fuchs knows, I have been foremost concerned about protecting our faculty lines. When he indicated to me in late November that he planned to move the Africana Center into the College of Arts and Sciences, I submitted my resignation to Provost Fuchs and only continue to serve as director at the request of the Africana Center faculty. Fuchs alludes that I support his proposed budget and implies the same for the restructuring of the Africana Center, which is blatantly incorrect. If he has anything in writing directly from me to the contrary, I ask that he kindly present it.We have asked several times for Provost Fuchs to rescind his decision, to clear the deck and to start anew  On Feb. 24, we even suggested a compromise given the tense atmosphere to at least suspend the decision to enter a discussion with open minds to seek the best solution to address our mutual needs and interests. Fuchs rejected our overture  to discuss this matter with the type of courtesy, decency and respect that we deserve no less as Cornell faculty than as human beings.Prof. Robert L. Harris Jr.Director, Africana Studies and Research Center