Black Students Mount Protests on the Campus of Cornell University

Earlier this month, Kent Fuchs, provost at Cornell University, announced that the Africana Studies and Research Center would now be under the jurisdiction of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Previously, the director of the center reported directly to the provost. As a result of the decision, students mounted protests on campus and Robert L. Harris Jr., professor of history and director of the center, resigned. Dr. Harris agreed to rescind his resignation after a unanimous request of the center’s faculty. A member of the Cornell faculty since 1975, Harris had served as vice provost for diversity and faculty development from 2000 to 2008.

In a statement, the faculty of the center said they were “surprised and appalled” that they had not been consulted before the decision was announced. They further said that the decision by Provost Fuchs was “was patronizing, autocratic, and non-negotiable.”

Professor Harris told JBHE, “We object to the arrangement and have asked that it be placed on hold until we have had an opportunity for the type of discussion that should have taken place before the decision was made.”

The university has tried to diffuse the situation by pointing out that the center would actually see a funding increase and would launch a Ph.D. program that would increase the size of its faculty and staff.