For Immediate Release
December 19, 1999
Contacts: Cathcart, or
Professors to Chair University of Maryland Panel Studying Diversity Issues
COLLEGE PARK ¿ Two long-time University of Maryland faculty members, both veterans of various struggles to enhance diversity, will chair a panel charged with finding ways to transform Maryland "from a diverse campus to a diverse community."
Maryland President C.D. Mote Jr. promised to create the panel last month as part of his response to a series of threatening letters sent to African and African American student leaders. The letters are still under investigation by state and federal authorities.
Mote named Claire Moses, professor and chair of the Women's Studies Department, and Raymond Johnson, professor and former chair of mathematics, to head the panel. The remaining members will be named by the first of the year, in collaboration with the College Park Senate.
"We have good reason to be proud of the substantial and increasing diversity of our campus," Mote said. "But incidents like the hate letters suggest strongly that we have not taken full advantage of opportunities to bring our campus family together into a diverse community. Some say we have become a federation of interest groups rather than a union of diverse people."
Mote said the panel should "consider any or all opportunities for enhancement of our experiences as a diverse community" and should not be "constrained by current practices and campus organization" as it attempts to
"If we can find ways to make diversity work by creating a safe and hospitable learning and scholarly environment for students, staff and faculty, we will have an exceptional legacy to offer the nation," she added.
Moses has been a member of the Women's Studies faculty since 1977 and became chair in 1993. Internationally known as a leading feminist historian and scholar, she has served as president of the Conference Group on Women's History and in leadership positions with the International Federation for Research in Women's History, the national Women's Studies Association, the American Historical Association and other organizations. Her scholarship and her writing on women's history have earned her wide acclaim from historians, politicians and scholars.
Johnson said he has always told students "that we are a microcosm of American society, with full exposure to all the positives and negatives. There have been many instances of the negatives toward African Americans in American society in recent months, and now this has surfaced at the University of Maryland.
"Maryland has attracted a diverse student body interested in exposure to a wide range of opinions, cultures, religions and races," he added. "We have created institutions to serve them. Now we need to work with these groups and institutions to foster more positive interactions on campus than takes place in the general society."
Johnson was the first African American to graduate from Rice University when his Ph.D. was awarded in 1969, the first Africacan faculty member of Maryland's Department of Mathematics when he was appointed in 1968, and the first African American faculty member to go all the way through the ranks from assistant to full professor at the university. He served as chair of Mathematics from 1991 to 1996. He has dozens of scholarly papers and presentations to his credit in the mathematical fields of harmonic analysis, and has served in leadership roles in national and international mathematics organizations.
In 1995 and 1998, Johnson organized conferences for African American math researchers. He has served on numerous panels and committees related to academic and minority issues. He is widely recognized for identifying and attracting African American graduate students in mathematics to the University of Maryland.
Mote said the panel should deliver a final report by June 30, 2000, but asked for interim reports and recommendations that would facilitate funding of new initiatives during the spring budget-setting process.
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