PROFESSOR W. BURLETTE CARTER — THOUGHTS ON GW LAW’S INTERIM DEAN HIRING PROCESS
If the school had picked a complete outsider I would understand it better although I think it would have been impractical and unworkable. But then you could say, “Alright, I get it. I don’t think it’s best but I get it.”
But they went inside and so in that case, the only reason to look beyond Dean Bracey based on prior approaches to the interim deanship was race. They haven’t offered another and I don’t know of another. Moreover, Bracey first heard that the school was considering other people in the hallways. Faculty, staffers and other associate and assistant deans knew it before he did. The process of collecting faculty viewpoints was done in the hallways and on phone and the squeaky wheels who couldn’t fathom him in that position made sure they got grease. That was neither acceptable nor collegial and I think it reflects the patronizing attitude that some had toward him as a black person. And third, as I said we have followed a pattern with respect to inside people. If Dean Bracey was not acceptable to the faculty then what was the reason? No interim dean we have had has been perfect. I know for a fact that a renegade group of faculty decided to challenge appointing him; we have had in the past white interim deans who were not wholly acceptable. I remember discussions about such and such. And folks would say, “Ok, it’s only an interim deanship.” The school did not explode. The notion, I believe, is that a black person has to have a tutor or overseer or has to have special rules that don’t apply to whites. We have to have super human qualifications, while whites can be ordinary. It is not novel. It dates back to slavery.
I don’t know who ultimately played the most significant role in this — the University Administration or the group of faculty who actively lobbied against Bracey and tried to block the appointment. At the end of the day, the interim dean is picked by the administration but faculty usually are consulted. If the Administration was just trying to make peace against a threatening renegade group who wanted to hand pick the interim dean, then they are sullied also.
Having said that, I don’t blame Dean Gregory Maggs who will now be the interim dean. He is caught in the middle of this mess with Bracey. It is absolutely not his fault and he is also a great choice as would Bracey have been. But a university is a vibrant community. We should not be pushing under the rug important issues of this nature being fearful of press. I suppose one good thing is I have now forced GW to have this type of conversation — while other schools are not and should be having it.
That is my input.