Chancellor's letter sought to inspire, not split faculty...

Letters to the Editor

September 19, 1998

Chancellor's letter sought to inspire, not split faculty, staff

I am writing in response to the article ("Chancellor's letter divisive, critics say," Sept. 10) concerning the personal letter Irving P. McPhail, chancellor of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, sent to African-American faculty and staff of the three-campus system.

The letter [urging recipients to "watch each others' backs"] was well-received by those of us in attendance at the reception. It was directed to us, thanking us for hosting such a warm and gracious reception for Dr. McPhail and his new wife, Dr. Christine McPhail, who recently relocated to join her husband.

Therefore, the choice of language and inclusion of a familiar African proverb and motto were specifically chosen for us. What we find most unfortunate, distracting and irritating is that a wonderful, uplifting experience -- an opportunity to express our support and congratulations to Dr. McPhail and his wife -- was twisted into something that totally misrepresented our intentions, as well as the intentions of Dr. McPhail.

The language in question was not divisive to those he was addressing. However, those who somehow got a copy of the letter might be confused by a message not directed to them.

Let's get down to the real issue. The number of African-Americans on all three campuses is small. The numbers are dismal in upper-level administration and faculty. So, as in many environments where African Americans are a minority, we have learned to try to support one another as much as we can, personally and professionally.

The truly sad part of this situation is that controversy has come over a letter to encourage African-American faculty and staff to become knowledgeable of and participate in the college environment, an initiative Dr. McPhail is enthusiastically spearheading.

Until more people of color are in positions of leadership, situations like this will continue, for the majority seems to have a low tolerance for difference, most likely based on lack of exposure and familiarity with African Americans.

Adrienne Phillips Koram


The writer is a professor at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County's Essex campus and a member of the college's African-American Caucus.

I am mortified by the undue publicity of a private communication from the chancellor of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County's to some of my African-American colleagues.

It is hard for me to understand what the fuss is about. As an African-American chief executive officer, Dr. Irving P. McPhail has been "caught" attempting to inspire and energize the disproportionately small minority of some 40 African-American faculty and staff members who work along with 1,600 other employees on the college's three campuses.

If this is a crime, the chancellor certainly is by no means the first to have committed it.

Three years ago, when I was chairman of the system's Tri-College Faculty Forum, Dr. Daniel J. LaVista, the EuropeanAmerican who was the first chancellor of the CCBC, routinely referred to me as his "compadre." He told me on one occasion that "we Mediterraneans ought to look out for one another" -- all to nobody else's offense, so far as I could tell at the time. Should my non-Mediterranean colleagues have issued a press release?

It is unfortunate that this incident has been created at this time, casting a shadow over our three formerly independent colleges' consolidation and the new chancellor's impending inauguration. It is about time for all of us, who have followed an array of white-skinned chancellors and presidents in 40 years of community college education, to demonstrate that we can take leadership from a dark-skinned man in the same spirit of professionalism and critical cooperation that we have accorded to his predecessors.

Kostis Papadantonakis


The writer is a professor of economics at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, Essex campus.

Wallace recanted views; how about his followers?

It is reassuring to know that former Alabama Gov. George Wallace recanted his racist views before he died.

How many of the 10 million people who voted for Wallace in his 1968 presidential bid did the same?

Mel Tansill


Helping to spruce up city and support a good cause

A Sept. 8 article ("A call for painted ladies") offered the best idea for transforming Charles Village and blocks of rowhouses throughout the city.

Row homes pretty much look the same, mostly red brick with white trim. One's home should be seen individually. Imagine the breathtaking beauty of row upon row of beautiful combinations of colors turning each home into its own work of art and turning the city into a joyful rainbow of colors.

This would create a tourist attraction. And this is done with a wonderful organization -- the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is dedicated to helping disadvantaged children.

Esther Yaker


Sauerbrey has worked well with Democrats

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