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Black Studies: Building on a Proud Tradition

SUNY New Paltz addresses concerns raised at rally

December 10, 2015

Participants in an on-campus rally yesterday called for faster progress on rebuilding the Black Studies Department and expanding the presence of minority students and faculty on the campus. This is our response to that rally:

Students, faculty and campus leaders share the broad goals of the Black Studies Student Organization. We commend the students for using their agency through efforts like yesterday’s protest to seek answers to their concerns.

SUNY New Paltz is proud to have one of the first Black Studies Departments in the country and we are committed to sustaining this important program following an unprecedented number of nearly simultaneous faculty departures through retirement or resignation. Specific to the students’ demands:

  • A copy of the national search advertisement for a full-time/tenure-track faculty position was shared with the students. It has also been posted publicly. This will guide the hiring of one or two faculty positions if the candidate pool warrants. Students will serve on the search committee.
  • Consistent with the recently passed SUNY System-wide policy, New Paltz will develop a plan to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer by March, and develop a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion plan to recruit, retain and support the success of a diverse student, faculty and administrative campus community by September 2016. We have welcomed student participation in this planning and implementation.
  • The Department Chair and the faculty are currently working through the appropriate hiring procedures. We encourage students and others who support the department and its long-term welfare to be patient during the time needed to plan for and hire new faculty through this thoughtful step-by-step process.

That said, we agree with students that progress on searches and curriculum development has been inadequate, and we are putting in place other structures to move this along more quickly, and to share news of progress more effectively.

Donald P. Christian, President
Stella Deen, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs