Is it time for Temple prez to act?

Posted: April 18, 2013

PROFESSOR Molefi Asante said Tuesday that Temple University President Neil Theobald may have to intervene in the process to select the chair of the school's African-American Studies Department.

Asante made the comment hours after he and Anthony Monteiro, the candidate expected to be nominated by the faculty for the chair position, presented their proposals for leading the department amid what has been a tumultuous transition to new leadership.

Faculty members were upset with Teresa Scott Soufas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which includes the department, after she rejected the faculty's nominee for chair last year. Soufas also sent signals Tuesday that she might reject Monteiro.

"It seems to me that president Neil Theobald needs to intervene," Asante said. "Both he and the provost Hai-Lung Dai should take this decision out of the hands of this dean."

Earlier Tuesday, about 60 students and faculty members heard from Asante and Monteiro at a meeting in Anderson Hall on Temple's main campus.

But shortly after Monteiro made his presentation, Jayne Drake, the vice dean for academic affairs and acting chairwoman of African-American Studies, pointed out that Soufas had sent an email earlier Tuesday that said only a tenured faculty member would be appointed.

Drake then said Monteiro's presentation was "moot" because he does not have tenure at Temple.

One graduate student described Drake's comment as "throwing a wet blanket" on the process by taking power from the faculty.

Later, Ama Mazama, chairwoman of the faculty committee, said the dean's email violates the faculty's union contract. She said the contract makes all faculty members eligible for chair when there is an internal search within a department.

Monteiro said he had tenure at his previous university when he was asked to come to Temple eight years ago and was promised he would get tenure.

Mazama added that there are several other faculty members without tenure who are serving as chair of their respective departments at Temple.

"It's disappointing," Mazama said of the tension. "We called that meeting. She [Drake] didn't have the authority to declare the meeting moot or make any comment."

Drake was not available for comment immediately after the meeting.

On Twitter: @ValerieRussDN

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