Dr. Roger House, a member of our civil rights community, brought to our attention a recent decision by Emerson College to deny tenure to him and Professor Pierre Desir. We understand the idea of academic deference enabling a university to make decisions about who it will hire and retain.
However, we also understand that Emerson College has failed to tenure and promote a male, African-American professor in its 129-year history. We further understand that of the three tenured African-American professors at the college, two filed discrimination suits over tenure in the 1970s and 1990s, respectively.
As the local branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, our mission is to advocate for equity and social justice. We are concerned about the societal impact and community impression created by Emerson's tenure history.
We want to express our concern that the college's tenure policy operates without discrimination against its professors of color. With this concern in mind, we intend to seek information from the Board of Trustees regarding its tenure practices. We believe it is important for the college to address our concerns to lift any cloud of suspicion surrounding its failure to willingly tenure and promote qualified black professors since its founding.
Mystic Valley Area Branch