We, faculty, staff and students at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, were shocked when Chancellor Matos Felix Rodriquez renewed President F. Crew’s contract for a final year. President Crew was the sole finalist for an appointment as superintendent of the DeKalb County School System in Georgia, effective July 1, 2020. The Board reversed its decision to appoint him after a more thorough investigation of his background and protests from parents and community leaders.
Faculty have a responsibility to safeguard their College. Rarely, as in the case of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays at Morehouse, does the tenure of a college president exceed that of a senior faculty member. Unlike Dr. Mays’ storied and productive years at Morehouse, Dr. Crew’s tenure at Medgar Evers College has been characterized by an inability to fulfill his strategic goals; declining enrollment, retention and graduation rates; the demoralization of students, faculty, and staff and a lack of investment in the College.
Where was Dr. Crew when our City and College campus was being devastated by COVID-19? Where was Crew when the decision was made to terminate the College’s relationship with its adjunct faculty members? During the pandemic, the College did not have clear and resolute leadership. Most of the statements from the President’s Office regarding COVID-19 were replications of statements from CUNY Central. While most of our students and staff were dealing with the unplanned loss of loved ones, Provost Augustine Okereke sent out termination notices to many long-time part-time faculty members.
We all know that COVID-19’s devastation sent and is sending explosive and disconcerting shocks throughout our national economy. We also know that Black and Brown people are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. An important lesson from this pandemic is that Black institutions of higher learning, such as Medgar Evers College, are integral to providing under-served people opportunities to enter America’s economic mainstream.
Let us examine Dr. Crew’s record of accomplishments during his seven-year tenure at Medgar Evers College.
- Dr. Crew has left the College in financial jeopardy.
- He has failed to deliver on his promise of raising $25 million for the College in five (5) years.
- There is a budget deficit and on GIVING TUESDAY, Medgar raised $853.000, the lowest amount in CUNY.
- He has slashed the budget for the Tutorial and Writing Centers.
- Student enrollment has declined precipitously from 6877 to under 4900 FTE students.
- One-year retention rates for first time freshmen (FTF) decreased from 58.4% in F2014 to 51.1% in F’2018. The College has the lowest FTF retention rates among senior colleges in CUNY
- The College has the lowest graduation rates (10.3% the lowest in CUNY) for senior colleges from college of entry in CUNY.
- Faculty and staff overwhelmingly (95%) voted No Confidence in President Crew and his leadership team.
- Over 700 students signed a petition calling for the resignation of President Rudolph Crew and Provost Augustine Okereke.
- Enrollment for First Time Freshmen (FTF) who participated in partner schools through the Pipeline decreased from 16.3 to 12.6 in Fall 2018 over three years, the lowest among the CUNY senior colleges.
- The Pipeline Program, praised by the Chancellor as a signature Presidential initiative, is now defunct. The Directors listed on the website are no longer working at the college.
The year 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Medgar Evers College. Under the leadership of President Crew and Provost Augustine Okereke, the College’s footprint in Brooklyn has shrunken and its standards for excellence and support for students have declined.
We have wasted years. Instead of proudly celebrating its accomplishments over 50 years, the College is adrift. Chancellor Matos Rodriquez’s decision to appoint Dr. Rudolph Crew for one more year based on his friendship with and performance record is disturbing. The College cannot survive one (1) more year under Crew’s leadership.
Therefore, we are requesting the following from the Chancellor:
- The immediate resignation of President Crew. He should not spend his final year (2020-2021) as a lame duck President who has demonstrated his lack of commitment to the College.
- A meeting with concerned faculty, staff and students to identify an Interim President who has institutional history and who will collaborate with faculty, staff, students, and the community to create a college culture that embraces social justice, shared governance, integrity, and transparency; and
- The appointment of an Interim President by July 1, 2020, the end of the contract for President Crew.
We are deeply committed to Medgar Evers College and the tradition of Black excellence. We would like to work with CUNY Chancellor Rodriquez to buttress the mission and integrity of Medgar Evers College.
On Behalf of Concerned Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Stakeholders
Dr. Owen Brown,
Professor Medgar Evers College, CUNY
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