On his first day as interim chancellor, Brady Deaton is reorganizing some of MU’s most controversial departments.
“The area of minority affairs will report to Mike Middleton, deputy chancellor” effective today, said MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken. Minority affairs, which includes black studies, women’s studies and programs to recruit and retain minority students, previously reported to Vice Provost Handy Williamson.
Neither Williamson nor Middleton could be reached for comment.
An outside report on diversity released in April harshly criticized Williamson’s handling of diversity programs.
“Many African American staff are especially disaffected and demoralized by their perception that some members of the administration, including Vice Provost Handy Williamson, are indifferent and sometimes hostile to African American concerns,” the report said. The report cited concerns from the Black Faculty and Staff Organization.
However, according to Banken, the changes are not in response to the report’s criticism. She said that Deaton had been looking at the structure of the office for some time and he views this as a positive move.
“It was really too much for one office,” she said.
Clenora Hudson-Weems, MU professor and BFSO member, voiced frustration with the manner in which past suggestions have been handled.
“BFSO made some requests that have been ignored in the past few years, and nothing has come to fruition, and there need to be some changes made,” she said.
Banken said the restructuring also reflects the increasing importance of diversity issues at MU.
Julius E. Thompson, director of black studies, said the change could provide “an opportunity for black studies to grow.” Thompson hopes more organization and support will help the black studies program achieve department status. Currently, MU students can only minor or double-major in black studies.
Deaton, who could not be reached because of a family medical emergency, plans to make the announcement today, Banken said.