Former DPAS chair responds to removal  

The following is a response submitted by George R. Garrison, former chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies. 

July 8, 1998 

I returned three telephones calls to the DKS, but was unable to reach the reporter of the article, "Garrison Removed as Pan African Department Chair" (7-1-98). Dean Danks, the Provost and President knows that most of the things alleged in the original letter that called for this extraordinary review, and those that emerged during the committee hearings are untrue about my administration of DPAS. The administration knows that many of the things that have been done by those who have mounted this two year assault on me person- ally, and on my administration are indecent and should have no place on a University campus. The administration also knows that the tactics, behavior and conduct of many within the opposition, have been uncivil, disruptive and unethical, with some acts bordering on criminality. 
     Dean Danks's decision to remove me as Chair, under these conditions, sets a dan- gerous precedent, and it sends the wrong message. The purpose of enduring and combating this continuous assault was to give this institution, and DPAS, an opportunity to rid themselves of this cancer once and for all, to bring the Department into the 21st Century, strengthen it and oversee its future growth and development. The failure of the Dean to exer- cise strong and courageous leadership on this particular issue, was, in my opinion, a big mistake. 
     The process that led to this decision con- tinues to be seriously flawed when decisions of this magnitude those that impact the careers, professional records and institutional status of decent loyal and com- petent officers of. this University, even if they are at the lowest position of the administrative totem pole become the product of political intellection, which ignores the true merit of the case. 
     I have watched with dismay, case after case, around this University as one Chair after another (John Heflin in the College of Educa- tion, Jon Wakelyn in History, Virginia Richmond in Communication Studies, and now Elaine McCoy ID Political Science) have faced rebellion from their faculty, without apparent strong support from their Deans and other top level administrators. The question becomes, "When and where do Chairs receive the administrative support that is necessary for their survival, when they pursue their duties in the proper manner? No where in the Collective Bargaining Agreement does it say, that the decision of the Dean, or higher administra-  tors, relative to the retention or non-retention of the Chair, rests solely with the vote of the faculty or the flawed, bias and useless report of an Extraordinary Review Com- mittee that ignored its most basic mandate, viz., to "operate in an objective manner." In fact, these things are only advisory to a decision that rests, ultimately, with the Dean himself. 
     The vote of the faculty and the result of the committee were expected. This was a set-up from the very beginning, and most around campus knew this. To many, however, the question had become, "Will the Administration take a leadership role, face whatever music it perceives to be out there, institute the proper measures and implement the relevant policies that will avoid this type of situation in the future, and set the kind of example that is worthy of a great institution?" 
     Obviously, it has not, so far. "Hanging me out to dry" alone, distancing itself from me, and making me the sacrificial lamb, was about the worst thing this administration could have done. Not because I covet the job of Chair of a Department so much in fact I do not, as it is one of most stressful things I have done but because it will make the efforts of an individual, who have [sic] made an enormous sacrifice for the "true good" of the institution and his Department so meaningless. The Dean's decision in fact devalues them, and sends a message to others, that Chairs who perform their duties to this institution should not expect the Administration to support them. This is the wrong message to send to Chairs, conspirators from me ranks of faculty, rowdy students, and all other faculty, student, staff and administrators, who work at and attend this institution out of a sense of confidence in the integrity and character of its leadership.  
     There is something terrible wrong about standing by and allowing an individual's reputation be stained and a cloud placed over his career because of the ugliness of politics. These types of administrative decisions threaten the very soul of this institution One great theologian said it "Truth crushed to the earth will rise again . . . (and) the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." (MLK, Jr.)

George R. Garrison
Former Chairman,
Department of Pan African Studies