Racial Tensions Swirling At UPenn as Africana Studies Profs Lash Out as Gutmann

Yesterday, six senior faculty members in the Department of Africana Studies wrote an extremely angry DP op-ed about UPenn President Amy Gutmann. They charged that Gutmann’s commitment to racial diversity among faculty is confined to token gestures, like the annual “faculty of color dinner” she hosts at her house every year. Which they’ll be skipping this year, after Gutmann passed up a chance to appoint a minority to an open dean slot this year.

Not only has President Gutmann failed to show leadership in diversifying the highest levels of University administration, those individuals appointed by President Gutmann have often modeled her example and made similarly nondiverse appointments of vice provosts, associate deans and other high-ranking administrative staff.

Gutmann responded today, pointing out that she has increased diversity on the Board of Trustees, Board of Overseers, and created the Department of Africana Studies that currently house her sharpest critics. She did concede that “there are areas, such as academic administration, where progress has been slow and where we need to work even harder.”

The problem now, is that if Gutmann does appoint a minority to a high-level faculty position, that too may be seen as a token gesture to appease her critics, rather than a genuine commitment to increasing campus diversity. [Daily Pennsylvanian]