TSU Faculty Senate chair's arrest spills over into search for next president

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 2:45pm

The controversy surrounding Monday’s arrest of a former Faculty Senate chair during a meeting at Tennessee State University has spilled over into the search for a new school president.

Former Faculty Senate chair and assistant professor Jane Davis, who has been critical of TSU interim president Portia Shields, was arrested after refusing to leave a Faculty Senate meeting Monday morning. She was charged with disorderly conduct.

After Davis was escorted to the campus police department, the Faculty Senate voted to remove Davis from her chair position.

Later, on Monday afternoon, the Tennessee Board of Regents released the 23-person presidential search advisory committee that will play a role in selecting the university’s next president. One of the appointments was a “to be determined” Faculty Senate representative.

Davis received a letter from TBR Chancellor John Morgan asking her to be a part of the committee and she accepted the invitation, but that all changed after she was voted out of her position following the arrest.

“The advisory committee typically includes at least two faculty members. One is the chair person of the faculty assembly,” TBR spokeswoman Monica Greppin-Watts said. “Because of what we heard about the vote [to remove Jane Davis], we’re waiting to hear from the faculty senate at TSU about who the chairperson is.”

Davis claims Shields and the Faculty Senate broke the law by ousting her, but didn’t say for sure whether legal action was pending.

“I think they created legal action, to be honest,” Davis said. “My plan is I teach, I love teaching. That’s my career. Basically, my calling is as an educator. There’s no difference in that, for me.”

Davis also refutes a TSU spokesman’s version of the events surrounding her arrest. She claims that she didn’t become “disorderly” but rather refused to leave her seat. A TSU Police Department incident report backs up that claim.

“Davis was asked to leave the meeting by President Shields, and TSU Police Officers were called to remove her,” the report stated. “I asked her to leave twice and Davis was noncompliant by remaining seated. Davis was removed from the meeting, and once out of the office, she was cooperative.”

The presidential search advisory meeting is set to meet for the first time on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. A related public forumn will be held beginning at 11 a.m. in Poag Auditorium. The 23 members of TSU's presidential search advisory committee are:

Greg Duckett, chair, TBR board member

Paul Montgomery, TBR board member

Emily Reynolds, TBR board member

Robert (Bob) P. Thomas, TBR board member

Faculty Senate Representative (to be determined)

Terry Likes, faculty representative, communications department chair

Linda Guthrie, faculty representative, interim associate dean, College of Education

Martene Stanberry, faculty representative, assistant professor

David Rawles, student representative, president of Student Government Association

Danicia Hayes, student representative, Miss Tennessee State University

Sandra Hunt, alumni representative

Leonard Stephens, alumni representative

Jewel Jordan, alumni representative, affiliate broker at ERA Chamberwood Realty Group

Yvonne Sanders, support staff representative, Procurement and Business Services

S. Keith Hargrove, administrative representative, dean of College of Engineering

Charles Sueing, business community representative, president or Sueing Insurance Agency/Nationwide

Jacky Akbari, community-at-large representative, Nashville Career Advancement Center/division of Mayor’s Office

L. Vincent Williams, community-at-large representative, retired deputy attorney general

Joann North, community-at-large representative

Melvin Malone, community-at-large representative, chair of Tennessee State University Foundation

Rita Sanders Geier, community-at-large representative, former faculty member

Ron Corbin, community-at-large representative, retired field VP at Allstate Insurance Company

Gari S. Cowan, community-at-large representative, manager of Global Staffing at Caterpillar Financial Services


11 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 8/22/12 at 2:58

The make up of this search committee may be a reason for the
number of Presidents that have come and go at this institution.
It appears to be loaded with Status Quo members rather than
desiring a true into the future, disciplined, and competent leader.

By: BigPapa on 8/23/12 at 7:21

That place is a zoo. I think we'd all be better served if it became a community college or just shut down.

By: Jughead on 8/23/12 at 7:57

Nothing will ever change there, for the same reason that Africans will never be able to govern themselves.

By: Left-of-Local on 8/23/12 at 8:16

(Ignoring Jughead's ignorant racist bullshit.)

TBR continues to be a greedy, myopic* organization, filled with people who have no interest in actually bettering other human beings with education - but rather their own social and political climb. TBR head should have to be elected by students. THEN we will see how long they last.

"Oh wait - you cut my major for budget concerns and you get paid HOW much in salary? Oh, ok. Don't let the door hit you in the ass..."

*Grown-up word defined for Jughead:

my·op·ic   [mahy-op-ik, -oh-pik]
- unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted.
- lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded.

By: Jughead on 8/24/12 at 10:13

@Left-of-loca: Typical libtard. Scream racism in the face of truth. I hope Michael Moore smothers you after a three-way with Al Gore goes wrong.

By: Jughead on 8/24/12 at 10:15

@lefty: Show me one---a single one---black run government in the world that has sustained itself by any means other than brutal force.

I'm waiting......

By: jeffrey31 on 8/24/12 at 11:58

@Jughead: Botswana and Mauritius have been free and democratic since their independence. The current regimes of South Africa (despite the recent labor violence, which has also occurred in the US in the past), Namibia, Ghana, Benin, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde are largely considered free, though they have all had dictatorships in the past. That's certainly more than one government, though I doubt it will persuade you.

Source: Freedom House's 2012 Freedom in the World report (I've removed Mali from the list, which had a recent military coup, though it is making moves to restore democracy).

By: Jughead on 8/24/12 at 1:58

@jeffrey31: You are looking through rose colored glasses, or you are attempting to revise history if you actually believe your post. NONE of those have had stability without outside governance. I hate liars.

By: Jughead on 8/24/12 at 3:14

I have personal knowledge of the lawlessness in Mali and the countries that surround it. There is NO Rule of Law--all run by thugs who kill at will.

I hate liars.

By: jeffrey31 on 8/24/12 at 4:16

I shared a list put together by an outside group, and I provided the citation; the report is available online. I was open about the only revision I made to the list, and I made it because the report which contained the list was published prior to the recent Malian coup. I fail to see how I could have possibly lied or even how I used rose-colored glasses when reporting a list.

Your challenge was that to show you "a single black run government in the world that has sustained itself by any means other than brutal force." Botswana and Mauritius have had multiparty, generally well functioning democracies since independence. They are stable. That's two.

The other countries have had turbulent pasts post-independence. However, their current governments are all democratic and more-or-less stable. A country has multiple governments over time, and your challenge was to find a stable, well run "black run government." I did.

Here is some additional evidence about the nature of these governments. Below are excerpts from the US State Department's human rights assessments on each country in my list, from the 2011 report, also available online:

Botswana--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings. However, unlawful killings by police or other security force members reportedly occurred during the year." The report goes on to list several people who were killed by the police while they were being pursued on suspicion of robbery, etc. There were no reports of disappearances or use of torture.
Mauritius--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings during the year."
South Africa--"There were no reports of politically motivated killings by the government or its agents" No disappearances.
Ghana--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings."
Benin--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including politically motivated killings."
Sao Tome--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings"
Namibia--"There were few reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings." All examples dealt with police brutality on criminals, not politically motivated killings or violence.
Cape Verde--"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings"

For most of the countries on this list, the reports do detail excessive use of force and abuse by police on suspects and criminals, but the examples given do not show a political purpose to the abuse. It's usually cases of the police gone overboard or awry, which happens here a lot too.

If you have evidence that the current governments of the countries on the list are run by "thugs who kill at will" and who maintain power through "brutal force," perhaps you would post it here, and forward it to Freedom House, to the US State Department, and to the other groups (World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit, Human Rights Watch) etc who rate countries on their democratic and human rights performance. I do not, nor do these agencies, claim that these countries have perfect governments by any stretch--I have been to several of them--but they aren't places of brutal political repression either.

By: jeffrey31 on 8/24/12 at 4:38

But getting back to the point of this article...

There are several excellent HBCUs in this country. I would enroll at or work at any number of them. Many others may not be top tier, but they serve their students well and deliver a quality education. However, Tennessee State has multiple problems, and I would think long and hard about studying or working there. That said, this university's problems are complex, but they certainly not caused by the color of the skin of many of the people who are on its campus. Yes, there needs to be individual changes in leadership positions. Yes, there needs to be a shift in the campus's culture which has for too long tolerated mediocrity. There are some excellent faculty, staff, and students at TSU, and they deserve better than they're currently getting.