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C'mon U Penn!

The senior faculty of the Department of Africana Studies recently RSVP'd to U Penn's annual diversity dinner, saying thanks, but no thanks to this year's event (h/t Claude). The reason is that at last year's dinner they demanded to know why the president had not appointed a single minority to the upper administration during her tenure.
Her response was that she would not just bring in someone who is not qualified, a comment implying that none of the people in the room were qualified to serve in these positions, even though many of them serve in administrative capacities in departments and centers. In her closing remarks, President Gutmann reiterated her dedication to diversity within Penn’s administration, admitting that “a show beats a tell.”
President Gutmann’s “show” came on Jan. 17, when she announced the appointment of the new dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Yes, a show beats a tell every time, and once again, she has shown that her commitment to diversity does not include her own administration. When presented with yet another opportunity to increase diversity at the highest levels of the University, she failed to do so after nine years at the helm.
The rest of the op-ed RVSP is here (see also this). While U Penn has made considerable progress in enhancing the diversity of its student body, diversity campus-wide is crucial. As one professor put it, “If you’re not diversifying the faculty that that student body sees, then what’s the point?” I wholeheartedly agree with this notion. Diversifying a university works best when done from the top down. It is hugely valuable for students of color, as well as women in the sciences, to see many examples of people like them in the positions of authority, such as professors and the administration, and not just as admins and custodians. As the authors of the op-ed put it:
The annual “diversity dinner” is indicative of cosmetic — not substantive — progress on diversity that we believe President Gutmann must address. Our decision not to attend this year’s dinner — and to share that decision with the Penn community — is not a petty one, nor is it one we’ve made lightly. Rather, it is based on a long overdue decision to forgo these meaningless gestures toward progress on diversity.
Only when issues of diversity are substantively engaged at the highest levels of our administration, not simply promoted as social events, will real change occur...


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