The University Record, April 11, 1994


Duderstadt and Whitaker: Michigan sets high goals

The letter that appeared in the University Record Faculty Perspectives page entitled “Limiting the Faculty” suggests that Dean Goldenberg’s handling of the review of the Department of Communication is based solely on what is personally acceptable to her. That is far from the truth. In fact, Dean Goldenberg fully consulted with us and with the University’s legal counsel before taking steps to suspend departmental rules and to appoint Associate Dean John Chamberlin as interim chair. Most importantly, Dean Goldenberg is taking exactly the right step in directing that the department be reviewed by a faculty committee. This committee will include members of the Department of Communication as well as other departments. We look forward to evaluating the results of this much-needed review.

We believe an essential point has been lost in the war of words over the department and in the gossip and innuendo that has resulted from the resignation of the chair, Neil Malamuth. That point is this: our focus should always be on making our academic programs as good as they can possibly be. We concur with Dean Goldenberg that the Department of Communication does not provide an educational experience comparable to the best available among other colleges and universities.

In May, Dean Goldenberg will charge the review committee. While not wanting to pre-empt her charge, we are sure it will contain the goal of providing the College with advice on how to improve this situation. We do not know what that will entail, but we will await the committee’s suggestions.

At Michigan we set high goals for our academic departments and for our undergraduate experience. Dean Goldenberg has been unwavering in her commitment to these goals. We are confident that the review, which will begin shortly, will help us provide an even better education for Michigan students, who should always demand no less than the best from us.

President James J. Duderstadt and Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr.

Faculty express concerns about charges of racism

We are a group of faculty in the Medical School who have observed with deep concern the growing storm over the charges of racism leveled against our colleague, Dr. William Pratt, as detailed in the Michigan Review on Feb. 16 and in the Michigan Daily on March 15 and March 28.

First, we wish to thank Provost Whitaker for his statement supporting the assumption of innocence and applaud his demand that Dr. Pratt’s accusers either present a credible case or desist from their attack upon him. We contend that to date, the allegations against Dr. Pratt constitute nothing more than unsupported accusations.

Second, we wish to be on record as witnesses to Dr. Pratt’s character. We categorically state that we have never observed in any forum, private or public, any evidence indicating any form of racism by Dr. Pratt. For some of us, this means greater than 20 years of almost daily interactions. Again, we state without exception that we have never heard or seen Dr. William Pratt make a racist statement or gesture of any kind. It is also a matter of record that he has devoted much effort to the recruitment, retention and mentoring of minority students in the Department. It is for these reasons that we find that charges of racism against Dr. Pratt to lack credibility.

We, the undersigned, call upon Dr. Pratt’s accusers to present substantive and credible evidence promptly or drop this campaign of slur and innuendo immediately.

Bernard W. Agranoff, Mary A. Bittner, Susan Brown, Christin Carter-Su, Latham Claflin, David C. Dawson, Victor J. Dirita, Wesley Dunnick, N. Cary Engleberg, Stephen A. Ernst, Stephen K. Fisher, David Friedman, Margaret E. Gnegy, Daniel Goldman, Irwin J. Goldstein, Ronald W. Holz, Michael J. Imperiale, Garth W. Jones, Richard Jove, J. Michael Koomey, Bert N. LaDu Jr., Myron Levine, Gerald Levy, John McReynolds, Miriam Meisler, Roderick Nairn, Richard R. Neubig, Ronald Olsen, Pamela Raymond, Jessica Schwartz, Donna S.

Shewach, Michael D. Uhler, Kostas P. Vatsis, Stanley J. Watson, Wendell W. Weber, Michael J. Welsh, John A. Williams, Gail Winger, James H. Woods, Vincent G. Zannoni

Editor’s Note: Letter signers are from the departments of Anatomy/Cell Biology, Biological Chemistry, Human Genetics, Microbiology/Immunology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Psychiatry.