Cornell Criticized for Changes in Africana Center

September 13, 2011

Alumni of Cornell University's Africana Studies and Research Center on Monday issued a harshly worded statement denouncing the university's recent decisions about the center as "regressive and colonial in nature." Cornell recently brought the center -- which had been freestanding -- under the College of Arts and Science. While that move was opposed by some at the center as intruding on its autonomy, Cornell officials argued it would allow for better support of the center, and was reflective of the way other interdisciplinary programs were housed at the university. Further, the university announced plans to add new faculty lines and to create a Ph.D. program. In August, the university announced that efforts had failed "to identify a faculty member who was both willing to serve and acceptable to a substantial majority of the Africana faculty...." So the university appointed two administrators from outside the center to jointly lead the program. The Africana alumni group said this amounted to holding "the Africana Center hostage under an externally appointed administrative regime." A Cornell spokesman said that the university was preparing a response to the alumni.

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