Medgar Evers professors at odds with administration

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/31/2013, 3:47 p.m.

"Since coming to the college, his leadership just hasn't been up to par, because to lead an organization, a person must know and understand it," Dr. Thompson said. "He didn't do that before he took a hatchet to it. And I don't understand why this is being done. There must be something else going on and we need to know why."

Thompson also had some words for the AmNews' recent stories on Pollard, Medgar Evers College and some of their programs and accomplishments.

"Many of those things were already in place before he arrived," Thompson said. "So they didn't really have much to do with it at all."

But issues with the administration and workplace environment weren't all the faculty members wanted to talk about. In a joint statement, the outspoken faculty members said: "The president and his administration told the staff that spearheading a customer service initiative would improve staff relations (as if to say that staff are the problem at the college). Students come to Medgar Evers because of the nurturing and caring environment they receive from both faculty and staff. But under the current administration, faculty and staff are demoralized because of the ways in which they are treated by the administrations."

Hershenson believes that the professors missed one more point regarding the initiative.

"The college's customer service program is not just for staff, it is for the entire college community--including the students for whom Medgar Evers College is their ladder to educational and economic success," Hershenson said. "It is naysaying, at best ... to portray improvements of customer service as anything other than ensuring a welcoming and hospitable learning environment."

But according to Cuffee, Medgar Evers College's environment hasn't been all that welcoming lately. "We have found it very hypocritical and contradictory, because the provost and president talk about integrity, honesty and respect. Who doesn't value those attributes?" she said. "We simply ask that they practice what they preach. If women are filing equal opportunity complaints, then that should tell them something."

Hershenson also noted that only seven faculty members were present at the news conference, while the school has over 200 faculty members.

Cuffee had a quick answer for that.

"Faculty [members] are afraid, and those who came out were brave. We invited more but they were afraid," Cuffee said. "We did have community support, so he can say what he wants. We may not have had a crowd, but we will get there."

While Cuffee believes the movement will grow, what will become of Medgar Evers College in the meantime? Dr. Nathaniel Ezuma, a professor in the School of Business and treasurer of the Faculty Senate, doesn't really know.

"I don't see where it's going," he told the AmNews. "There's too much confusion. Academics can't function in a place that has confusion. Where are we going? I don't know. We fired faculty. Who's going to be teaching? And I'm really concerned about the quality of faculty that's been brought in. Unqualified faculty--and they are being pushed."