Prominent professor questions U of M diversity - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Prominent professor questions U of M diversity

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A nearly completed student center sits in the heart of The University of Memphis.  It's a campus which is home to a diverse student population.

"Extremely diverse," says student Toya Butcher.

But she has just one professor who is not white.

"There's one lady in the nutrition department that's of color," says Butcher.

Professor Larry Moore believes diversity among the university's faculty gets a failing grade.

"And if you're not treating your faculty right, then nothing else really matters," says Moore.

Within two years of retirement, Moore tells Action News 5 he's taking his concerns to a new level.  He's calling attention to what he says is a history of not rewarding, promoting, or encouraging African-American faculty members in his department and overall.

"There's not been a black hired or tenured in the last 18 years in the business school," says Moore.

Here are portions of a scathing letter sent to members of the Shelby County Legislative Delegation:

"While most major universities are aggressively trying to recruit, retain,  and promote qualified black faculty and graduate students, the University of Memphis,  under this current administration, appears to operate under a 1960s form of tokenism.."

"As a University whose nationwide name and reputation has been built on the substantial contribution of black male athletes, the fact that there is not one American black male in either a faculty role or graduate student position in the PE department is a disgrace."

"I love this school," says Moore.  "I was cheering for this school when some faculty members couldn't find Memphis on a map."

Moore hopes his letter initiates an investigation or, at least, exposes what he considers a pervasive problem.

A university spokesman declined to specifically address Dr. Moore's claims or provide data to the contrary.  But he stood behind what he called an excellent record of diversity.


An Open Letter to the Shelby County Legislative Delegation
With Regards to the 1960's Style of Black Tokenism
Practiced at the University of   Memphis Under
Joyce Raines and Ralph Faudree

To the Legislative Delegation:

This letter is addressed to you as representatives of the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee who contribute a substantial portion of the operating budget of the University of Memphis,  as trustees of state businesses who donate substantial funds to the University, and as  guardians of our students who pay tuition to the University. This letter  concerns  the operation of the University under the current President Shirley Raines and Provost Ralph Faudree, particularly with regards to none foreign born black faculty and graduate students at the University of Memphis.

While most major universities are aggressively trying to recruit, retain,  and promote qualified black faculty and graduate students, the University of Memphis,  under this  current administration, appears to operate under a 1960s form of tokenism, of marginalization, and of benign neglect of  those black  faculty members who have not been hand-picked by the administration for success, positions,  promotion, and salary, as well as an apparent lack of interest in black Phd candidates.

The way the Raines/Faudree administration  operates is relatively simple. Every two or three years a qualified black is hired with a great fanfare,  and given a high position with a great salary and often with a full professorship.  Then in an alternate year they will again, with high fanfare,  honor some well known black like Ben Hooks or Maxine Smith. This gives the impression that blacks are welcome and are well represented on campus, but in reality, this is solely a scam to continue to mislead the legislature, fool donors and stay under the radar of the EEOC, but after the fanfare, there is little or nothing else done to support or promote black professors or Phd  students.  In fact few blacks are ever  hired, and fewer still  are promoted. Indeed,  many of the current blacks who have been promoted to a full professor at the University through the regular tenure and promotion process, were promoted  under administrations. Also of those blacks who have been  promoted,  a large percentage are Africans, with American-born black men generally at the lower end of  the salary and promotion scale.

American born black professors constitute about  five percent of the faculty [about 46], but the majority are found in the school of education and nursing, and  with the largest number, [9]  or almost 20 percent of the campus total, in the department of leadership. This department has become an Enron like entity which this administration uses to increase the number of black faculty and promotions as a whole, while allowing other departments to have no black faculty presence at all.   Indeed throughout the rest of the University there are scores of departments that not only have no black professors, but have never hired a black professor in their  history at the University. The result is that only about two dozen blacks, half of whom are from Africa, actually benefit from a university which has a faculty presence of almost a thousand.

While there may be a reasonable explanation for such an anomaly, the appearances are very disturbing. A few other  examples are in order. In the Fogelman College of  Business every black that has come up for tenure or promotion under the entire period of the  Raines/Faudree administration has been rejected,  for a 100% rejection rate and a 0% approval rate. However, whites and international faculty are routinely approved for both tenure and promotion. There have never been more than four black faculty members in a college that has had as many as 120 professors at one time, and only one black faculty member has been recruited during the entire history of  the Raines/Faudree administration. In addition, the new dean who was hand picked by this administration has set a new record for generating  EEOC complaints against the university, getting one per year for each of his two years at the university [including my own]. Given the fact that there were only 4 black faculty members in the college when he took over, i eans that  50% of the black professors  in the college  at the time of his arrival have filed separate complaints against the school because of  him - which is extraordinary.

With regards to black doctoral students  there have been no black PhDs to graduate from the Fogelman College under Raines/Faudree  who were recruited under this administration, and there is only one American-born student now in the Phd program. However white and foreign born PhD students are regularly recruited and graduate every year from the college.

On the other side of the campus in the Department of Health Science, formerly known as the Physical Education Department, there is not one American-born black faculty member, and a look at the current list of graduate assistance in this department from the last academic year shows that there is not one black male graduate assistant. As a University whose nationwide name and reputation has been built on the substantial contribution of black male athletes, the fact that there is not one American black male in either a faculty role or graduate student position in the PE department is a disgrace.

The University under Raines/Faudree, seems to be saying to  young black males,  that while we want you in our athletic programs, we don’t think enough of you to give you a job in education after you graduate. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, attached are two from the Health Science Department. This is the faculty and graduate staff of the Department.

From the Health Science Department on the eastern side of the campus to the Fogelman College on the western side, black faculty and graduate students at the University of Memphis under Raines/Faudree administration are few and far between. And among those few, even fewer are rewarded, supported, or promoted. And among those so rewarded, they were hand picked from the beginning to be show pieces or tokens. A very old ploy from the 1960s.

The irony is that Old Miss has now become the school  of choice for qualified blacks who want to receive their PhD. Ole Miss actively recruits black candidates and makes them feel at home. On the other hand while blacks are sometimes accepted, they are seldom  really recruited at the University of Memphis, and among those that do attend, they  often complaint of  a hostile environment. One Ole Miss PhD student is an avid Memphis State athletic fan, follows the team on road games, lives within the Memphis State University housing area, and can pay the  tuition. Yet rather than go to the school whose  athletic teams the person so loves,  this student drives every day to Oxford and pays a higher tuition to get a PhD that is  available for much less time and money  just across the street.

Maybe there is a good and logical explanation for all of this.  If so, I  believe that it is the job of the  legislative delegation  to ask University officials to provide it. To require them to  explain why the University of Memphis, as a major urban institution, has almost no interest in playing a major positive role in being a leader in showing  how blacks can be integrated into such a major institution, to explain why it seems that this administration appears to actively seek out ways marginalize or suppress black faculty and Phd candidates. Indeed, this university if anything,  is turning out white and foreign born  Phd students who in addition to their degrees learn how to run a university with minimum black presence,

The Administration may also say that this letter is the work of a disgruntled unproductive employee. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit that I have been rated as the least productive faculty member at the college at the beginning of this administration, and have held this position during the entire Raines/Faudree administration. See attached Dean’s Letter. According to this administration, it is because  of my poor performance  that I receive the lowest salary of any professor in the college [I am being paid a base salary equal to what I earned in 1982 and which is about 1/11 of the almost $600,000 now being paid to the new Dean]; that I teach one of  the highest class loads with the most students; receive the least amount of support; and will also  have the smallest retirement of any faculty member in the college. So there is the possibility that this may be the meanderings of a disgruntled faculty member, but even so there are enough peculiar facts to demand some answers.

To see what an American  black man must do to earn the title of least productive faculty member  at the University of Memphis, look here:


Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Larry Moore
Associate Professor of Business Law
200 Fogelman College Admin Bldg
University of Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee 38152-3120

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