Cornell University Provost Refuses to Reconsider His Controversial Plan Regarding the Administration of the Africana Studies and Research Center

Recently, Kent Fuchs, provost at Cornell University, issued a statement affirming a decision he made last December that the leaders of the Africana Studies and Research Center would report to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, rather than directly to the office of the provost. At the time, faculty at the center vehemently opposed the decision. 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.”

This past April, Cornell announced that Africana’s Studies and Research Center’s permanent annual budget would be increased from $2.3 million to $3.5 million. This is a hefty increase of over 50 percent.

In addition, the center will receive a one-time allocation of $2 million to “recruit new faculty, support research, and develop a new Ph.D. program.”

But Robert L. Harris Jr., professor of history who resigned as director of the center in protest of Fuchs' decision, remains opposed to the new arrangement. Dr. Harris told JBHE, “ The provost has promised more financial resources for the Africana Center over the next five years, but there is no agreement on how those resources will be deployed. The faculty of the Africana Center and the advice of experts in the field of Africana Studies have been ignored.  There has been no effort on the part of the administration to reach a consensus on change to which we are not unalterably opposed, but we expect the courtesy and dignity of consultation with our faculty and students and not just a few selected individuals."