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Black Professors Defend Indiana University President

Black Professors Defend Indiana University President

A group of Black professors and staff members at Indiana University want the school’s faculty to reject a resolution seeking a special review on the leadership of President Adam Herbert.

The group denounced the actions of those who pushed for a rare mass meeting of Bloomington campus faculty members to consider the resolution, saying that criticism of the university’s first Black president has been unfair and unbalanced.

Kevin Brown, a law professor and co-president of the Black Faculty and Staff Council, said during a news conference that the school’s board of trustees should refuse to perform the special review even if a majority of faculty members support it.

He said such a review would “besmirch the reputation of Indiana University and set a very troubling precedent. … African-Americans are likely to feel that this is a hostile environment.”

Hundreds of professors attended the mass meeting after weeks of complaints about Herbert’s lack of accessibility since he became president in 2003 and his handling of the search for a new Bloomington campus chancellor.

Brown and other Black professors say they believe their opinions were cast aside by a broader faculty movement against Herbert, led primarily by White professors. The group handed out a 15-page list of IU’s accomplishments under Herbert.

Fred Cate, an IU law professor who has been one of Herbert’s most vocal critics, says he regrets that some believe race was involved in the criticism.

“If any of us had thought of it as a racial issue, we would have gone to our Black colleagues,” Cate says. “Instead, we went to all of our colleagues because it didn’t cross our minds as a racial issue.”
Herbert also has the backing of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, which called the movement against him unfair.

Herbert’s critics “have been beating him up in the media, and they have not done that to any of his predecessors,” says state Rep. Vernon G. Smith. “We’re saying treat him with the same professional air as you would any other president of a university.”

Herbert released a statement saying he was pleased the debate was drawing attention to the university’s recent accomplishments.
“I want to express my appreciation for the many expressions of support I have received from my faculty and staff colleagues and from the IU family as a whole,” he wrote.

Associated Press

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