18 April 1996
From: George R. Garrison
To: Edward W. Crosby
Re: Your memo of 16 April 1996
This acknowledges receipt of the above memo. I find the tone and tenor
of your correspon- dence to me offensive and insulting. The natural tendency
would be to respond in a personal and emotional manner. I will not do this,
but rather to articulate to you, and my faculty, for they have had access
to your memo, what I perceive to be a difference in philosophy and modus
operandi between you and myself. This memo will not answer each
point that you made, individually, for many of them fall within various
categories. But I will attempt to address the main points.
What you and others accuse me of relative to BUS is unconscionable. I have not tried to alienate them, nor have I tried to undermine their sense of self-esteem or sense of accomplishment. I have, through my contact with them, and through my work around this campus for the last year, attempted to be one of their strongest supporters. It is amazing to me that you, and some others have such a dim view of my relationship with BUS, when the general view by others around this campus — administrators, faculty and some students — is that I have proven to be one of their strongest and most outspoken supporters. This same view of my role as Black Student advocate is well known as extending to Black students in other areas of the campus — athletics, in the dorms, and with regard to individual complaints that are routinely brought to me, to which I always intervene in the ways that I can. What I have attempted to do with regard to BUS, which has not been understood, nor appreciated, by you, some of the members of the past BUS Board, and at least one member of my Department, is to teach them humility and to help them see how the historical efforts of this organization fit into the general struggle for liberation in this country by Black folk, historically. In this way, far from their being a diminution of their sense of self, and value of their contribution, there would be and enhancement of those things, as they come to understand and appreciate that they were part of something much bigger than what has been happening on this campus over the last 25-30 years. Moreover, there have been others, just like them, who have done similar things. This shows the depth of the strength, creativity, courage, intelligence, energy and wisdom of our people. It leads them into a much larger community of soldiers, thinkers and wise men and women. The struggle is not loca!ized to Kent State University — never has been, and it never will be. What the students have accomplished here at Kent State University is nothing short of phenomenal. I say that without reservations. But no individual, group or generation, can claim exclusive ownership of the progress of the struggle. To do so would diminish, and insult the work and sacrifices of millions of other people, across history and geography
. II. Communication with DPAS Faculty and Staff
I have read the Faculty Handbook and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I welcome you, or any member of my Department to show me where, specifically, I am in violation of these documents. If it can be substantiated that I am, I would gladly correct the problem. I do not have a problem with rules and regulations. I understand both their purpose, and their importance. But simply accusing someone of something, no matter how loud or persistent, does not make it the case, necessarily. It is not the prerogative of other faculty. either individually or as a group, to be in total of control of the schedule of other faculty members in this Department. The schedules of faculty members are determined by a number of factors — the basic contract and expectations that this university legitimately places on us all, the needs of the Department, and the special circumstances of the faculty member. Your basic complaint, and that of at least one other member of my faculty, is related to an individual that we all know has taken on tremendous responsibilities, by adopting two other children, due to the death of her sister. Do you mean to tell me that, as Chair of this Department, that I should not take that into consideration, when I make demands of her, relative to her responsibilities in this Department. You, and the other faculty member in question, unceasingly remind all of us about the responsibilities associated with Afrocentricity. At the core of the Afrocentric world view, is a theistic and communalistic structure. Even if we are not moved by the principle of love, empathy and compassion for our Brothers and Sisters, we ought to be compelled by the imperatives of culture, relative to our treatment of each other. The schedule of this particular faculty member, is a matter between her and me — it falls under the administrative prerogative of the Chair. I do not perceive that we are a Department of individualists, operating in isolation, and outside of the general thrust of this unit. Rather, it has been my goal, from the very beginning, to move us to a point where the sense of community operates in this Department at its highest level.
There is open communication with me and members of this Department. The claim that somehow I have shut myself off, from, and fail to communicate with, my faculty is false and without ground. Much has been made by you and others about the fact that I shut my door when I go into my office. You have even suggested that I, unlike the president, deans, chairs or faculty, have "cocoon(ed)" myself off from faculty and students during the work week. I can not imagine where you get this from. I am in constant communication with faculty, staff and students. Any time that the previous BUS leadership wanted to talk with me, it happened. Whenever students around the office, have wanted to talk with me or needed my assistance, I have responded. Students all around this campus, are always in-and-out of my office, and I am continuously working on problems that they bring to me. I have been engaged with the problem in Engleman since November, 1995; I have dealt with the complaints of student athletes which have necessitated discussions with the highest levels of administration in the athletic department; I have intervened, on request, in the attempts of students to resolve all sorts of problems from financial aid to the residence halls. I am on as many, or more, committees than probably any other Chair at this university, in an attempt to improve the situation for Black people on this campus, and to help the university do the very best job it can in the areas of equity, equal opportunity, cultural and racial pluralism, etc. On top of all of this, I work continuously with the regional campuses, even visiting them for discussions and to give lectures. People do not find me inassessible [sic].
My door is physically closed often, because of the tremendous amount of work that I have to do in the many roles that I have assumed since coming to this campus. It is improper to characterize my work habits as being different than any other administrator on this campus. We all close our doors sometime, and turn to the heap of work that is before us. What you and others are witnessing, is a highly developed work ethic. Far from me altering that, I hope it spills over to all in this Department. This is one of those areas where we can improve collectively. The Chair must lead by example — through his/her work, efforts, dedication, and deeds — not simply through his/her rhetoric. Frankly, I can not afford and excessive amount of time of socializing and frequent and unnecessary interruptions. I close my door to work. As I recently said to the newly elected president of BUS, my door may be closed physically, but it is always open figuratively. And in the long run, that is more important than it being always literally open. Indeed, he and I had our first meeting, over an extended period of time, which took us beyond the normal work day, as a result of his just popping into the office, without an appointment. I knew that this meeting was important to this young man, so I put aside what I was doing to give him this time. This is how I normally operate.
This Department has regular faculty meetings. The business of the Department is conducted through these meetings, the faculty is kept informed about what is going on relative to this Department, and there is always a spot on the agenda for BUS, BGSA and KASA. The mechanism for communication, throughout our community, is in place.
III. Faculty and Staff Hires
I have read the Faculty Handbook and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. But important beyond that is that I am a veteran Chair, and both in that capacity, and as a faculty member, over the course of twenty years in Higher Education, have conducted and been a part of more search committees than any one in the Department, probably. Rest assured that we have, and will continue to conduct searches in this Department in accordance with standard policies and procedures.
In this section of your memo, some of the things you have articulated shows insult and contempt for some of our colleagues. Moreover, some of your comments are exaggerations, disingenuous, insincere and inaccurate. I have been Chair of DPAS for one year, three and one half months, not "almost two years." Furthermore, you and another member of this Department strongly opposed my plans to provide a series of lectures for members of this university community during the month of February, that was intended to show case [sic] the research and talents of colleagues both in this, and other Departments on this campus. We went forward with the lecture series, and it was successful. In my way of thinking, this is the way the spirit of a Pan African Community on a university campus, manifest itself in one of its most concrete ways. This is also part of my goal to build bridges between this Department and our colleagues in other units around campus. I also believe it is important for the students to see that they are being taught by Black scholars who are making important contributions in the area of research and scholarship. At that same meeting where you opposed this Black History and Culture Month effort, I informed you, and the entire faculty, that we would be initiating monthly forums, where there would be an on-going lecture series in this Department. Beyond all of this I have been working on a major lecture series, that will bring to this campus nationally, and internationally recognized scholars. This will soon be initiated. To criticize me for not doing all of this at once, is not to be serious in your critique. You, and everyone else who knows and appreciates what I have been faced with in this Department, know full well that these things take time.
I disagree with you assessment of Johnnie Cochran's visit to this campus. Simply put, I view him as an important role model and inspiration to our youth, and a man who has performed an invaluable service both to the Race, and to this country.
Your assessment of the value of the work, and the importance of the contributions of the individual who is the Curator of the Uumbaji Gallery is at serious odds with my own. I say, unequivocally, that it is my opinion that no one in this Department has made a larger contribution to the work and the development of this Department, than he has. And this is precisely why I have given him such a strong recommendation for promotion.
V. The Black Experience Textbook Development
This is a matter that I know the Black Experience Committee has been working on. You will have to take that up with them directly.
VI. External Micro Management of the Administration of this Department
I do feel that you have interfered into my administration of this Department, and that this is the major reason why there is so much discord, disharmony and rebellion in these spaces.
As I indicated to you in our meeting, this Department is in "good hands." Your accomplishments are safe, I will continue the "Good Fight," and to build upon what you and others have established here. I will do that, regardless of the relationship that you and I have. My commitment is not limited to you, any group of students, or the faculty of DPAS. Rather, it is to the general struggle of our people, manifesting itself in my work, wherever I happen to be — the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Howard University or Kent State University. As Chair of this Department, I do not intend to loose any ground that the struggle of my people have gained. It is my intent to move us forward. I suggested to you that you spend this time, in your life, writing — putting down for posterity, all that you have thought, and the insights and wisdom that have come from your long distinguished career as and educator, soldier and change agent in this struggle. I mean this in the best, and most respectful way, you can now leave this aspect of the struggle — the soldiering — to others. You do not have to carry this burden anymore. I understand the role that I must play, and have the energy, insight, intelligence, experience and commitment to do it.