A Tough Spot

by Ozzie Harris II | 5/30/01 5:00am

To the Editor:

I have never written to The Dartmouth about employee matters that have come to my attention in the time I have worked for Dartmouth, but given The Dartmouth's series of articles questioning Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenberg's commitment to diversity, I feel the strong need to be clear about my impressions. Management decisions are frequently complex. The Dean's discretion in personnel matters may be worth comment, but I am certain his decisions and rationale were not based on race. Karl has advanced diversity at Dartmouth over the past 10 years in ways that none among us can claim.

Karl Furstenberg understands the importance of trying to create an institution that is diverse and is sensitive to the needs of students, employees and faculty of various backgrounds. Knowing Karl as I do, I am sure that he has been deeply troubled by this unfair public criticism. The nuanced and subtle problems of difference that he has been asked to address and comment upon are not generally made plain by sound bites and short quotes. It is difficult to negotiate the difference any of us must face when we work and live in diverse communities. Karl has created a diverse work environment and he should be acknowledged for making this environment work -- it is difficult to be perfect. Dean Furstenberg's office has been one of the most diverse offices on campus for the past 10 years. Karl's initiative in this area should be an example to us all. Additionally, Karl is at a disadvantage because personnel matters are not easily or appropriately discussed in public. There is nothing about difference and the importance of diversity to Dartmouth that is easy, but I believe The Dartmouth's coverage has worked against the possibility of truth in this particular instance.

I understand that communication is a difficult thing to do well and that all of us are misunderstood on occasion. I also trust that employee concerns about promotion and communication have been offered to assist Admissions and Dartmouth in making good on our promise that we are an institution that is "actively" committed to non-discrimination and equity.