UVA’s “Great and Good” strategic plan lists “recruiting and retaining excellent and diverse faculty” as a central goal. But this year, two black scholars who have been denied tenure claim the decision process was significantly flawed, possibly due to racial bias.
Paul Harris has worked at UVA’s Curry School of Education since 2011, studying identity development in black male student-athletes and underrepresented students’ college readiness. For the past six years, Harris’ annual reviews indicated that he was meeting or exceeding expectations. So he was shocked to learn in January that an all-white, college-wide promotion and tenure committee had recommended against giving him tenure. Instead, he was offered a promotion—for a non-tenure-track position.
Harris says the committee claimed his research in the Journal of African American Males in Education in 2016 was “self-published.” (In fact, the peer-reviewed journal has a 23 percent acceptance rate.) The committee also got his citation counts wrong—they’re five times higher than the committee claimed.
Sociologist Tolu Odumosu has been on the tenure track at UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science since 2013. He’s co-written and co-edited two books, and helped write a $3 million National Science Foundation grant. After his third-year review suggested he expand his editing experience, he also became an associate editor of two journals.
But the engineering school’s tenure committee did not grant him tenure this year. It claimed that Odumosu hadn’t written enough work by himself, and was not the principal investigator named on the NSF grant. Like Harris, Odumosu had not been warned that his work was not up to par.
Both men appealed the decisions to UVA’s provost, but the appeals were rejected. The scholars are now appealing to the Faculty Senate’s grievance committee—their last option.
Quote of the week
“This is a moment to step boldly into our future…We have to work together to decide what kind of Virginia we’re going to be. I’m ready for the challenge.”
—State Senator Jennifer McClellan, announcing her campaign for Virginia governor
Still on the march
Charlottesville activists continue to mobilize the community to protest police brutality. Large marches and demonstrations have taken place in town at least once a week since the death of George Floyd in late May. Last weekend, protesters marching downtown also directed some of their energy toward patrons of the mall’s outdoor restaurants: The demonstrators chanted “Shame” at diners who were sipping beer and chewing on burgers.
Denver Riggleman’s campaign claims that several delegates who participated in the recent drive-thru Republican convention have contracted coronavirus, reports CBS19. The local Republican Party denies the accusation. Riggleman continues to criticize the drive-thru convention format that saw him lose the congressional nomination to challenger Bob Good. “Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this process,” Riggleman tweeted on election night.
Community members have noticed that the Charlottesville Police Foundation—dedicated to fundraising for the “advanced training, new technologies and equipment, [and] housing assistance” that isn’t covered by the department’s $18 million budget—posted a list of donors on its website. The list featured several local restaurants and other businesses, as well as individuals, including City Council members Lloyd Snook and Heather Hill.
Tweets about allegations of sexual assault and harassment directed at dozens of UVA students and staff appeared on an anonymous Twitter account last week. The alleged incidents once again drew attention to students’ calls for reform—in April, student advocacy group UVA Survivors created a list of demands for institutional change in sexual assault policy, reports The Cavalier Daily. The list has garnered around 1,700 new signatures in the past week.
UVA will now allow students to enroll and graduate “regardless of citizenship or immigration status,” the university announced last week. Previously, only DACA recipients—not other “undocu+” students—had not been allowed to matriculate. The decision represents a long-sought victory for activists around the school community.