City Councilwoman Inez Barron, chair of the higher education committee.
CUNY might be a diverse place, but it is lacking in black faculty, according to city lawmakers and faculty at a hearing of the City Council’s Higher Education Committee in November.
Committee chair, City Councilwoman Inez Barron told CUNY officials that while the percentage of non-white faculty at CUNY was nearly twice the national average, its black faculty remained at 12 percent between 2014-17.
“Until we deal with the structural power centers in the University…there’s not going to be a lot of black folks,” James Blake, president of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Black Faculty and Staff Association, said in his testimony, adding, “We’re generally at the lower levels of faculty appointment… . As we retire, we’re not replaced with people of color.”
Brenda Greene, the executive director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, testified that the state of black studies programs throughout the University were “diminishing” because of the “non-replacement” of black faculty who leave the system.
The hearing came just days after CUNY announced a $500,000 city council grant for the founding of a Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College with the aim to address bias on campus and promote “dialogue between diverse groups.”
Councilwoman Barron suggested that the University look to replace college interim presidents with non-white permanent replacements. “This is a golden opportunity for CUNY,” she said.
CUNY officials said the University was reviewing its policies about being proactive in hiring new non-white faculty members and that it was planning on submitting proposals on how to increase faculty diversity to the Board of Trustees in the spring.