Abdul Alkalimat, director of the University of Toledo's Africana studies program, said yesterday he believes there is an effort afoot to reduce or eliminate the program he has guided for the past decade.
Speaking during a meeting with other faculty members and students at UT's Student Union yesterday, Mr. Alkalimat said the black studies program had been cut out of discussions that will shape the future of the college of arts and sciences.
But two university officials denied the allegations, including one who was in attendance at the meeting.
Samuel Hancock, who is UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs' assistant for institutional diversity, told Mr. Alkalimat at the meeting that the president had no intention of getting rid of the Africana studies program.
He said Dr. Jacobs addressed that very issue at a diversity meeting Monday night.
"Dr. Jacobs said very emphatically there is no attempt on his part, there is no desire, and there is no movement to get rid of [Africana studies]," Mr. Hancock said.
Sue Ott Rowland, dean of the college of arts and sciences, likewise denied there was any effort under way by her or anyone else she knows of to cut or eliminate Africana studies.
Mr. Alkalimat, the only director the department has had, said earlier this month he announced his retirement from the position, effective next spring at the end of the 2006-07 academic year.
He said the fact that the uni-versity has not named an interim director to take his place at the helm of a program he believes has historically lacked resources and faculty leads him to believe that the program is on the verge of being phased out.
Mr. Alkalimat said he resigned earlier this year because he believed an interim director would be named.
He was joined by Morris Jenkins, an assistant professor for criminal justice; Martino Harmon, director of the Office of African-American Student Enrichment, and several students.
"When I resigned and freed up that [faculty position], and the university reneged [on naming an interim director], it was clear that we needed to have a public discussion on this," Mr. Alkalimat said.
"If we cannibalize black studies, little benefit will go to anybody else, and a tremendous loss will be experienced."
Ms. Ott Rowland said she was surprised by Mr. Alkalimat's meeting yesterday because she wants to see the program strengthened. "What we want to figure out is how to position that program where we can grow it back again," she said. "It has really dwindled in size, and I'm not sure why."
Ms. Ott Rowland said the college has been going through a reorganization for the past year and every program director has been involved in those talks.
She said all the college's programs are under review but none of them - including Africana studies - is targeted for cuts or elimination.
Contact Clyde Hughes at: