Ousted Temple instructor speaks out

Posted: February 13, 2014

THE FIRING of Anthony Monteiro, a popular Temple University professor, has sparked a coalition of activists and academics to demand his reinstatement.

Monteiro, a scholar of W.E.B. DuBois, has taught in Temple's African American Studies Department for nine years as a full-time, nontenured instructor.

He received a letter early last month telling him that his job would end in June.

"I felt it was an act of retaliation," Monteiro said last night.

Last spring, Monteiro had publicly criticized Teresa Soufas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, for rejecting the faculty's choice of professor Kariamu Welsh as interim dean.

"This is an injustice," Monteiro added. "Temple is a powerful institution, but it is not yet a great institution because it has lost its moral bearings."

He said that Princeton's Cornel West, 1960s activist Angela Davis and MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky were among professors who signed a letter of support.

Monteiro had reached out to community activists in 2012 to tell them of a brewing conflict between Soufas and African-American faculty.

"I described that here we now have a woman who had leaned across the table and pointed her finger in [current chair] Molefi Asante's face, " Monteiro said.

As a result, several activists, including Sacaree Rhodes, of the African Daughters of Fine Lineage, led protests at Temple last year demanding that Soufas be fired.

Rhodes said community pressure had persuaded Temple President Neil D. Theobald to force Soufas to reinstate Asante as chair of the department.

Although the community's anger was aimed at Soufas last spring, Rhodes said that anger is now focused on Asante.

She said Asante would not have been returned to chair the department without Monteiro's help.

"Asante has now aligned himself with the same racist [woman] who put her hand in his mouth and did everything but count his teeth," Rhodes said.

At 11 a.m. today, Monteiro said, community activists, academics, labor leaders and clergy will join him at a news conference at the offices of District 1199C, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees.

Neither Asante nor Soufas could be reached for comment last night.

Ray Betzner, a Temple spokesman, said professors who are not on a tenure track are hired on a contract basis from year to year.

"The decision to hire a contract instructor is certainly one that would result from the recommendation from the chair of the department and would in no way be made by the dean independently," Betzner said.

At Temple yesterday, student Tarah King, 19, said of Monteiro:

"He is a great professor. He's very passionate and he doesn't sugarcoat things."

On Twitter: @ValerieRussDN

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