FYI: Racism and Academia
Date: Wed, 18 May 94 15:40:24 PDT
Subject: FYI: Racism and Academia
Forwarded-by: lanih@info.Berkeley.EDU (J. Lani Herrmann)
Forwarded-by: Cal Herrmann <arminius@nature.Berkeley.EDU>
(found on sci.anthropology.paleo)
In Spring of 1993, the Department of Anthropology at the University
of Connecticut conducted a search for a senior medical anthropologist. By
a slim margin (5-4), the faculty majority selected Dr. Soheir Morsy, a
distinguished woman of color who later (in November 1993) won the Rudolf
Virchow prize awarded by the Society for Medical Anthropology at the Annual
Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Members of the losing
faction immediately began a vicious campaign against Dr. Morsy's candidacy.
The Dean of Liberal Arts and Science intervened and stalled the search before
Dr. Morsy was offered a contract. Two of the majority faculty then filled
an affirmative action complaint with the University's Office of Affirmative
Action. Then ensued a six month wait while Affirmative Action ostensibly
carried out its investigation.
In November 1994 Dean Romano called the faculty to a meeting, where he
informed us of his decision. At that meeting, the Affirmative Action officer
reported that despite the fact that the office had not completed the
investigation (!), her finding was that the previous search be called off
and a new search begun. Dean Romano then ordered the Department to form a new
search committee that would include people from departments other than
Anthropology as well as off campus representatives. This committee would
write a new job description and would have the responsibility of drawing up
the short list and selecting the candidate to whom the job would be offered.
In one fell swoop, Dean Romano arbitrarily disenfranchised the Department of
The new Search Committee was chosen largely from among those people who
torpedoed Dr. Morsy's candidacy the previous year. Needless to say, the
currently short-listed candidates include no people of color. Every
indication is that the Committee will recommend that the job be offered to
a white male.
President Harry Hartley claims that the University of Connecticut is
devoted to multiculturalism and diversity, but the devotion seems to hit
a brick wall when it comes to hiring qualified minority faculty. What does
diversity mean if it does not involve increasing the racial and ethnic
diversity of both the faculty and student body. Historically, anthropologists
have buttered their bread through the microscopic scrutiny of the lives and
customs of nonwhite others. Indeed, in Mexico, anthropologists are often
referred tongue-in-cheek as antropofagos (cannibals). If ethnic and racial
diversity is to become a reality, it should begin in Departments of
Anthropology. We (the majority faculty) call on the academic community to
write to Pres. Harry Hartley, Gulley Hall, The University of Connecticut,
Storrs, CT (06269).
PROTEST the following:
1. The blatant chicanery of the Office of Affirmative Action in
issuing a finding before having completed its investigation.
2. The Dean's blatant interference in internal departmental affairs,
and his authoritarian restructuring of Anthropology Department search
3. The Department Head's weak (or nonexistent) leadership in not
maintaining control of his "troops"
DEMAND the following:
1. Censorship of Dean Antonio Romano (Dean of Liberal Arts and
2. Restoration of previous search procedures (selection of the
candidate through democratic vote of the departmental majority) until such
time as a different procedure be elected by members of the department.
3. That the current search be terminated and a new search undertaken
that will actively solicit applications from minority faculty. The ideal
solution, of course, would be a restoration of Dr. Morsy's status as the
department's choice for the position.
If you wish additional information about this case, please write to:
Dr. Leigh Binford
870 Storrs Rd.
Mansfield, CT 06268
© 1994 Peter Langston