Press conference planned in response to gender discrimination, cuts in student support, and two no-confidence votes in Medgar Evers President William Pollard and Provost Howard Johnson

The Medgar Evers Coalition for Academic Excellence and Mission Integrity (MEC Coalition) has announced a press conference on the steps of City Hall on May 3, 2012 at 10am. The press conferences comes on the heels of two no-confidence votes against President William Pollard and Provost Howard Johnson in the Faculty Senate (an ongoing petition demanding their recall is available at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/a-pollard-recall-at-medgar). The MEC Coalition cites as its grievances the removal of women from positions in the university, silence from Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, and cuts to student support, including elimination of the Writing Center, budget reductions for tutoring and computer services, and attempts to reduce library hours.

“The failure by the Pollard administration and the Chancellor to address these actions has led to the resignation of faculty and administrators from their positions, the firing of faculty, the removal of Chairs and an extremely unstable and demoralizing work environment,” said Prof. Evelyn Maggio, Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate.

At the press conference, the MEC Coalition will request a meeting with the female members of the CUNY Board of Trustees, ask Chancellor Goldstein to request Pollard and Johnson’s resignation, and call on elected official to restore transparency and community responsibility to Medgar Evers. The full text of the press release is below:

Chancellor Goldstein Wants to Ignore “A Vote of No Confidence”
for the President and Provost of Medgar Evers College; Attack on Women, Reduction in Student Support Services, Cronyism, and Fiscal Mismanagement
BACKGROUND
The standoff at Medgar Evers College, CUNY (MEC) has only intensified of late after the staggering Vote of No Confidence, initiated by the faculty and staff in response to the ineffective and callous administrative leadership of President William L. Pollard and Provost Howard C. Johnson. President Pollard has been belligerent in his refusal to acknowledge that there are smothering problems at MEC ready to implode, and has refused to come to the negotiation table to hear the demands of faculty and HEO staff who voted No Confidence, 136 to 13. This is the second Vote of No Confidence. A Vote of No Confidence by the Committee of the Whole of Faculty was held in December 2010; the vote passed, 56 to 7.
The attack upon women’s leadership at the College has been nothing less than egregious and systemic. Many women who were flagrantly removed or forced out by intimidation and bullying by Provost Johnson have filed EEOC complaints within the last year to secure protection as well as justice. These complaints are under review. Four women have been forcibly removed as Chairs.
Two women have been removed as Deans and one woman has been removed as Provost. All of the women who have been removed are women of color. All but one of the women who have been removed have been replaced by men.
Women have asked Chancellor Goldstein to intervene, but unlike his rapid response to Brooklyn College’s claim of gender discrimination (where he responded with an investigation upon hearing of the alleged discrimination toward Jewish professors at Brooklyn College), the Chancellor has not responded regarding Medgar Evers College. State Assemblyman DovHikind took the lead in addressing Brooklyn College’s faculty concerns and devised a letter addressed to Chancellor Goldstein which twenty city and state elected officials signed. The Chancellor has begun an independent probe into these actions but has yet to acknowledge or respond to the emails and letters on behalf of the violated women at Medgar Evers College.
Prof. Evelyn Maggio, Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate noted that “The failure by the Pollard administration and the Chancellor to address these actions has led to the resignation of faculty and administrators from their positions, the firing of faculty, the removal of Chairs and an extremely unstable and demoralizing work environment.”
 
Students are the core of the institution, yet among other related issues brewing, are the President’s reduction in student support services and lack of transparency. When the Pollard administration came in, it dismantled the Writing Center, cut the budget for tutoring and computer services and attempted to reduce resources in the library hours. One student stated, “I would call what is taking place at Medgar Evers College subtle sabotage.” Dr. Sallie Cuffee, Chair of the MEC Faculty Senate states “his removal of student support mechanisms has certainly aggravated the dropout rate of our students as much as the downsizing of necessary services to have them job market ready.” The admin has claimed that they are restructuring student support services but these services were dismantled over two years ago.

Once again, the administration has moved commencement away from the campus without informing the appropriate constituents. Yolanda, a student exclaimed, “I chose this college because of the symbolism behind Medgar Evers and what it means to our community. How could we move it to the Jacob Javits Center and why did I have to go to the college’s website to find this out?” A staff member, said, “Students were only officially informed of the location of graduation after questions were raised at the President’s Town Hall meeting held on April 23, 2012. This important graduation information to students was deliberately suppressed.

In 2010, there was an outcry from students regarding the unilateral decision to move graduation to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) without consultation with all constituencies affected. Yolanda also, upon hearing that graduation had been removed, stated“We can’t have a Dean’s List ceremony celebrating student achievement because of a lack of money, but the College can pay to move our graduation to an expensive venue.”

President Pollard’s inability to manage limited financial resources and raise funds has come under question. The salaries of administrators, mostly cronies who are loyal to Pollard to a fault and who are retirees, have increased regularly. Some people call this a “pension scam.” Highly paid consultants and overpaid new administrators are added to the payroll consistently without faculty being aware of administrative and academic job searches.
 
A CALL TO ACTION FROM THE FACULTY SENATE:
Our institution’s viability to retain students and to attract a new generation of students has been put at risk; the mission of this civil rights’ institution has been all but abandoned, and the community which struggled for the founding of this institution has been forcibly alienated.
In view of the fact that the Chancellor has not responded to the charges of sexual discrimination and harassment of female faculty and leadership at the Medgar Evers College, we request a meeting with the female members of the CUNY Board of Trustees.
In view of the overwhelming Vote of No Confidence by faculty and staff at Medgar Evers College, we call for the Chancellor to ask for the resignation of President Pollard and Provost Johnson.
In view of the fact that MEC executives continually cite lack of funds for the failure to provide adequate information technology equipment and technicians, the absence of modern education technology to facilitate learning; and no tutors and coaches for a student populace known to be victimized by New York’s low performing high schools, and that the primary function of CUNY appears to be capital funding for new buildings rather than funding for the education of working class families, we call for our elected officials to convene a hearing to allow for a thorough and transparent review of these MEC and CUNY financial matters that directly impact on the educational problems confronted at MEC.
 
MEDIA CONTACT
AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. at 718.756.8501
April R. Silver pr@akilaworksongs.com

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