We call on Emerson’s Board of Trustees to fully acquiesce to requests made by a local NAACP branch for information regarding tenure and faculty diversity practices at the college.
The Mystic Valley Area branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sent a letter to the trustees calling for information about the college’s tenure standards and its record of retaining minority professors. In our view, the former is deficient; the latter, abysmal.
Andrew Tiedemann, Emerson’s new vice president of communications and marketing, has said the college is reviewing the letter and will issue a response. Any disclosure would be voluntary, but we encourage full compliance with the NAACP’s inquiry. Emerson should turn over its tenure policy, which is public information, as well as data about the racial makeup of tenured professors in the past 25 years. Crucially, they should explain why Professors Pierre Desir and Roger House (a member of the NAACP branch) were denied tenure last year, while the rest of the candidates, all white, were retained. Failure to do so will create the impression that the college has something to hide. Turning over the documents will speed a resolution to Emerson’s tenure disparity for non-white candidates, which we hope includes a reinstatement of House and Desir.
If, as Emerson administrators have maintained, race was not a factor in House and Desir’s rejection, opening the books is one way to prove it.