February 22, 2012


Dear Provost Aber and Dean Fuld,


We are writing to call your attention to an immediate crisis in UNH’s diversity curricula.  The departure of Cait Vaughan from her position as coordinator of the 3 Minors (Africana Studies, American Studies, and Race/Culture/Power) means that these programs have been effectively dissolved. We are not speaking rhetorically; without a staff member who can collect titles of cross-listed courses and ensure that those are included in the Time/Room schedule (due in the next few weeks), these programs are officially moribund as of Fall 2012.


The faculty who have been teaching in these minors, and who fought for years to get them established in the first place, feel compelled to register our concern. We are fully aware that you are in the midst of making some challenging decisions regarding funding allocations. In this era of vertical cuts, however, we would hope that UNH move not backwards, but rather, look to the future and support emerging strengths.  A decade ago, Cait’s position was secured after a successful program review of the three minors; at that time, UNH administration made what we had hoped was a longstanding commitment to nurturing programs that seem perennially at risk in our predominantly white institution.  The position has enabled us to protect and slowly build our enrollments; just as importantly, it has helped foster community among faculty, students and staff.  Now, with several recent, hard-won hires in critical race/ethnic studies in English and elsewhere in COLA, UNH actually has a chance to become the only institution in northern New England with an interdisciplinary center committed to these fields.  The creation of such a center would, in truth, be a relatively inexpensive way forward, as the university seeks to distinguish itself in budgetary hard times.  Most of the pieces are already in place; it would be a shame to lose momentum here.


However, Cait’s departure represents a critical loss of momentum, exacerbated by the loss of JerriAnne Boggis and the popular Black New England Conference, and paralleled by similar losses in our mutually supportive sister programs in Women’s Studies and Queer Studies.  We are thus asking you to take prompt action to re-fill this full-time, benefitted PAT position, and add a full-time OS assistant as support for the 3 Minors and the Ghana Program.  Cait Vaughan left her position amid a climate of demoralization, in which more and more of these programs’ labor was piled on a single position, and fear of impending “review” (and job cuts) was added to the mix.  We would be dispirited to see this happen again.


To let the 3 Minors dissolve at this point, silently and out of inertia, would be racist in its effect.  In saying this, we are not accusing any individual of racism, but rather following a central insight of the 3 Minors themselves: that racism is systemic, a product of institutional forces that requires constant vigilance and resistance. We feel strongly enough about this that we have drafted our concerns into a public statement, which we plan to submit to the Chronicle of Higher Education and other media.  Like other institutions, UNH has often availed itself of faculty and student work in ethnic and critical race studies to market its commitment to “diversity” and “inclusive excellence.”  If the 3 Minors disappear, we feel the public has a right to know.  But first we would like to meet with you to hear whether you are willing to provide the immediate staffing, and longer-term administrative leadership and commitment, that these programs require.




Funso Afolayan

Mary Jo Alibrio

Brigitte Bailey

Marla Brettschneider

Holly Cashman

Monica Chiu

Lori Dobbins

Burt Feintuch

Robin Hackett

Joel Hartter

Lori Hopkins

Meghan Howey

Delia Konzett

J.P. Lugalla

Courtney Marshall

Joelle Ruby Ryan

Siobhan Senier

David Watters

Reginald Wilburn

Cord Whitaker

William Woodward






Siobhan Senier
3/25/2012 02:39:44 am

We might begin by forwarding this letter to _The New Hampshire_. I do think we should send it to the Chronicle, but we'll need to revise it to note that not only is this an embarrassment for UNH, in particular, but it's part of a much larger trend nationwide to let ethnic studies slide under the guise of overall belt-tightening.

Robin Hackett
3/25/2012 04:05:11 am

I'd like to see added into this letter an observation about the racist effect of the navatias program, to the degree that under this program foreign students who pay out of state tuition will replace US students who need financial aid.


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