Swift reaction came from Guyanese-born Terrence Blackman, PhD, after Dr. Rudy Crew, president of Medgar Evers College, announced his departure eight years after he was appointed by the CUNY board.
“We, faculty, staff, and students are very thankful that CUNY has acted to remove President Crew and assign a team to manage the college until the new president can assume leadership,” said Dr. Blackman, associate professor, Department of Mathematics School of Science, Health & Technology.
“Our founders established a college that would be a beacon of hope for our students and the community. The need for reestablishing this legacy is even more critical now as we face COVID-19, impending budget cuts, and economic challenges,” argues Dr. Blackman, in an interview with Caribbean Life.
“As a predominantly Black institution committed to social justice, we are responsible for fostering an environment that positions our students to be transformative leaders.”
“We will realize this responsibility through the visionary, caring, compassionate and competent leadership of a new president, in reaction to Crew’s departure to take up an unpaid senior fellow position at CUNY’s Institute for State and Local Government.”
He said the faculty expects that the new president will foster an intellectual and student-centered environment that respects and values shared governance, transparency, academic integrity, and the free exchange of ideas.
“Our new president will be responsible for unifying the college’s stakeholders in improving enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, revitalizing and expanding our degree programs and curriculum, raising funds, and increasing faculty, staff, and student morale,” he expressed.
“This hard-won community-based institution, which ought to have been an incubator for Black excellence in Central Brooklyn, was, during the tenure of Dr. Crew, run, most cynically, in a manner akin to a personal fiefdom of insiders, and allies.”
“At the root of Medgar’s downward slide and the college’s current precarious position was the “tribal” quality of the Crew-Okereke leadership team. Dr. Crew entrenched an administrative leadership group which, exploited ethnic and other divisions among faculty and staff to advance individual agendas and parochial interests,” said the professor.
“The resulting patronage, nepotism, and cronyism to the detriment of our students, staff and faculty, stunted the growth of the College as an institution birthed to connect our young folk to opportunity. Our academic and social justice imperatives were stifled or dismissed in favor of the unfocused and unsustainable whims of favored insiders,” said Dr. Blackman.
The time was long past for an end to Dr. Crew’s presidency and the uncaring, inept and incompetent administration, which accompanied it, stated the professor, quoting Dr. Myrlie Evers Williams, widow of Medgar Evers and her family happily agreed for College #7, to be named after her late husband, with the understanding that the university and community would honor not only his name, but also his legacy.
“She reiterated that the Evers family believes deeply in historically Black colleges and the missions they represent. Dr. Crew’s presidency did not, unfortunately, live up to or honor this legacy. Myrlie Evers Williams was right in her recent assessments when she noted that, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1963).
“Faculty, students, staff, and community leaders issued a call for a change in the leadership of Medgar Evers College. They could not continue to be silent,” said Dr. Blackman.