No white person is qualified to chair the board of Roxbury Community College, claims Sadiki Kambon, a Boston activist. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s appointment of Gerald Chertavian, who founded a job training program called Year Up, “is sending a message that although we are a predominantly black institution, it will take a white person to give you the vision and leadership to take the college to the ‘promised land’ of education,” wrote Kambon, who claims to represent “Friends of Roxbury Community College,” in a letter to Patrick. “That is the plantation type mentality.”
Forty-eight percent of RCC students identify as black, 16 percent as Latino and 6 percent as white, according to The Boston Herald. (The “decline to state” category must be large.)
The board has named Valerie Roberson, vice president for academic affairs at Joliet Junior College in Illinois, as president of the troubled community college. She is black. Last year, President Terrence Gomes resigned amid charges of mismanagement of funds, violations of federal safety laws and other problems.
Chertavian is a great choice to head the board, writes Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker in Education vs. turf at Roxbury Community College.
After a successful career on Wall Street, he began a highly regarded job training program for young people of color who struggled in traditional educational settings — exactly the constituency RCC serves. He is strategic, thoughtful, and the most unassuming zillionaire I’ve ever met.
The college faced “a host of academic, administrative and legal issues” until it was stabilized by the former board chair, Kathy Taylor, writes Walker. “Throughout the turmoil at RCC, there has been a persistent undercurrent that outside forces are somehow conspiring to deprive Roxbury of control over the college.” But this is about turf, not education.
The RCC administration — most of which remains in place — has failed at virtually every aspect of running a college. But none of that ever outraged Kambon and his followers — not a graduation rate in the low single digits, not the financial aid problems, not the unreported campus crimes, not the attempt to keep quiet a student’s report of sexual assault by a professor. No protests, no letters to the governor, about any of that.
No, the real focus of their outrage is that this white guy might not view the incompetents who turned RCC into an educational and bureaucratic mess as untouchable.
Most Roxbury students want “a quality education and career training delivered by a competent administration in a safe setting,” writes Walker.