Rally seeks ouster of KSU chairman
Pan-African unit head target of students, faculty
By Justin Boyd
Record-Courier staff writer
A protest staged
by Kent State University's Black United Students Friday was the latest
indication of an increasingly public controversy surrounding
the chairman of KSU's Department of Pan-African Studies.
About 350 students,
staff and faculty gathered outside the Kent Student Center to hear George
Garrison defend his three-year record as chairman of Pan-African
The protest came
on the heels of a letter presented to Garrison Thursday by BUS requesting
his resignation as chairman of the department.
The letter, dated
Nov. 19, contained six points. Among them were charges that Garrison has
a "blatant disregard of the historical mission of the Department of Pan-African
Studies," was "in open opposition to the African-American student body,
and that he was unable "to serve as a responsible and professional faculty
into a bullhorn r ponded to the allegations by detailing his history in
the civil rights movement and his upbrluging in segregated South Carolina.
He also emphasized his dediGation to black students.
"For the last
21 years, I've been in higher education helping black students 'he said.
"I came here particularly for black students."
"I am not guilty
of the allegations brought against me and time will bear that out," he
said. "Someday, you young people will regret this."
But some faculty
in Pan-African Studies said BUS's action was a reflection of growing dissatisfaction
among students and faculty with Garrison's conduct as chairman of the department.
"This whole situation
has exemplified the lack of communication, trust and confidence that are
critical in any effective functioning of any organization'' said Jacqueline
Rowser, assistant professor [sic] of PanAfrican Studies. "The chair's philosophy
and his vision are not in line with the majority's vision and philosophy
in Pan-African Studies in terms of where it's been, where it is and where
a full-time instructor in the department, said BUS's letter resulted partly
from Garrison's refusal to establish consensus about the department's mission.
"This is just
a mess", he said. "I really and truly believe this all could have
been avoided if Dr. Garrison had taken the time to sit down and talk to
his faculty about what it is that we do."
spoke to students at the public rally, he could not be reached for additional
comment following it.
The KSU administration's
reaction to a faculty request of an early review of Garrison may have played
a role in bringing the departmental controversy to a public boiling point,
some at the rally indicated.
protest makes public issues that we've been trying to resolve privately,
but with no success," Rowser said.
chairman of the grievances committee of the KSU chapter of the American
Association of University Professors, said a quick administrative response
to the review request might have prevented the present controversy.
"My big complaint
is that, for whatever reason, the administration has not moved along as
they should have and, in my view, has made it more difficult to come to
a positive conclusion in this situation," he said.
established in the collective-bargaining agreement between }(SU and the
AAUP all department chairs are subject to an administrative review every
However, if one-third
of a department's faculty requests it, the dean must initiate an "extraordinary
review" of the department chair. The bargaining agreement requires such
a review must be completed in the semester after the request is filed with
professor Pan-African Studies and director of the Center of Pan-African
Culture, said a request for an early review of Garrison signed by four
Pan-African Studies faculty members was acknowledged by loseph Danks, dean
of the College of Arts and Sciences, in January 1997.
KSU Provost Myron Henry, however, the review committee is only now finalizing
"I don't anticipate
that the review will be complete this semester but by the end of the academic
year," he said.