Rickford to depart College for Cornell

by Marian Lurio | 7/18/13 10:00pm

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Rickford marches with students at a recent rally to protest the Trayvon Martin trial decision.
by Sasha Dudding / The Dartmouth
announced. After joining Dartmouth's faculty in 2009, Rickford, who focuses on black radicalism of the 1970s, became involved in campus activism, assisting groups including Occupy Dartmouth and the People's Coalition.

Rickford will continue teaching at Dartmouth through the upcoming academic year, including a senior seminar in the fall and two lecture courses.

Rickford said Cornell was the "right move" for his family.

"The prospect of my 5-year-old daughter, who is entering kindergarten this fall, attending an elementary school in which she will be somewhat less racially isolated is especially appealing," Rickford said.

History department chair Walter Simons said Rickford's expertise in 20th century civil rights is an asset to the department.

Though assistant professors sometimes leave the College after just five years, it is uncommon, Simons said.

Afro-American Society president Bennie Niles '15 said Rickford attended community events. Rickford has also mentored several members of the African-American community.

"Underrepresentation in the classrooms is a reality that many students on this campus have to deal with, which is why it is so tough for many of us to have to say goodbye to professors of color," Niles said.

Several prominent minority administrators resigned from the College in recent years.

Samantha Ivery, who served as an assistant dean of student life, advisor to black students and the acting director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement, and former Dean of the College Sylvia Spears resigned in 2011. Nora Yasumura, former advisor to Asian and Asian-American students, left last year.

To ensure greater retention of minority faculty and staff, Rickford said that "students need to realize that power concedes nothing without demand."

"If attracting and retaining more faculty of color is a priority for them, they need to make their wishes known in the most insistent manner," he said.

Rickford said he will continue to participate in student activism groups in the coming year.

Rickford said he plans to associate with "the dissidents, the humanists, the dialectical materialists and the pickup soccer players" at Cornell.

At Cornell, Rickford said he will continue to research and teach about the black radical tradition, 20th century social movements and African-American political culture since World War II.

Rickford encourages original thought in the classroom, Simons said.

"He has brought to the job enormous energy and enormous learning that has resonated beyond the classroom," he said.

Adrienne Clay, Rickford's wife, is the African and African-American studies department's program coordinator. The family will move to Ithaca, N.Y., next summer.

Black students advisor T.M. Mosley could not be reached for comment by press time.