Ousted professor re-ignites protests within department

The employment of one instructor is again the subject of controversy within the African American studies department after Anthony Monteiro, a non-tenured professor in the department, issued a letter of grievance against Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Teresa Soufas for choosing not to renew his contract. 

Monteiro delivered a statement to the press at the 1199C Hospital Worker’s Union on Feb. 12, calling on President Theobald to reverse Soufas’ decision and renew his annual contract. Monteiro alleged that the decision not to renew his contract was an act of revenge – a direct response from Soufas to his outspokenness during heated discussions last year between the dean and department faculty and students over the filling of the department chairmanship.

Soufas said Monteiro’s allegations had “no truth whatsoever,” adding that the decision not to renew Monteiro’s contract was made by Department Chairman Molefi Asante based on the changing structure of the department.

“The African American studies department right now is rethinking and making new plans for the curriculum,” Soufas said.

Asante declined to comment, citing ongoing discussions between the groups.

Monteiro was a supporter of Kariamu Welsh, a tenured member of the dance department at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Welsh’s nomination for chair of the African American studies department by the department’s faculty was rejected by Soufas in Spring 2012 on the grounds that she was not a member of the department. 

More than a year of controversy followed when, instead of appointing Welsh, Soufas appointed then-Vice Dean Jayne Drake, a white woman, to a one-year interim term. Students of the department, community activists and faculty members then rallied behind Asante, who chaired the department from 1984 to 1997, advocating that he should return to head the program.

After several public protests and a formal nomination by the department faculty in April 2013, Soufas confirmed Asante as department chair. Monteiro said he and other members of the department have been continually harassed in a racist manner by Soufas.

“It is her getting back at me for my standing up to her bullying, pointing fingers at black men,” Monteiro said in a statement.

Soufas said Monteiro has not approached her to discuss the matter, but “would be happy to talk with him.” Non-tenured and non-tenured-track faculty members are hired by the university and their respective departments on a contract basis that must be renewed every year.

Senior political science major and African American studies minor Sabrina Sample, a former student of Monteiro’s who took his Black Intellectual History in the 20th Century course, said she thinks it would be “a really big mistake” for the university to let go of Monteiro.

“For the African American studies department [especially], I know a lot of students come to Temple in particular to hear Monteiro lecture,” Sample said.

Senior media studies and production major Ryan Hallas, another former student of Monteiro’s, said that while he generally found Monteiro’s Race in America class enjoyable, he found the lectures unorganized and didn’t leave the class with “any new knowledge.”

“I also [believe] that he was trying to come off as a pretentious person by the way he would pronounce his words,” Hallas said. “I believe he even made some words up.”

Monteiro has made several demands along with his reinstatement, including the end of the alleged harassment and a formal apology from Dean Soufas.

John Moritz and Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at news@temple-news.com. 

3 Comments

  1. I sat in on a few of Dr. Monteiro’s gen-ed race classes and attended many of his lectures and free Saturday classes. It is shameful and disgusting that the Temple News can even somehow validate and legitimize ignorant slander by a racist like Ryan Hallas. I “get” that the authors of this article are attempting to remain “objective” but to attempt to argue, even for a sentence, that Dr. Monteiro is some sort of pretentious phony is just offensive. Dr. Monteiro is one of the most brilliant, influential professors at Temple which is clear by the huge (and diverse) crowds he draws at every one of his speaking events. He embodies what every proponent of social justice and liberation should aspire to be and I’m embarrassed to call myself an alumni of a university that exercises such poor judgement and explicit racism.

    • Your accusations of a racism leveled towards a complete stranger not only show your intellectual dishonesty, they cheapen the experiences of people who have and continue to experience racism every day. A young man voices a few negative opinions about a teacher, while saying he still enjoyed the class overall, and he is labelled a racist for that? Please, spare us all. This kind of blatant race-baiting is designed to silence people without providing any real rebuttal. I sincerely hope that Dr. Monteiro’s supporters don’t resort to this cheap tactic in order to coerce others into sharing their point of view.

  2. Stephen Paulmier

    For over thirty years I have had the honor to learn from this distinguished activist, academic, historian, community leader and worker. Any university worthy of the name would stand in shame to miss the opportunity to expose its faculty, student body and staff to this reservoir of cutting edge research and experience. As a scholar of and expert researcher on the life and work of Dr. W.E.B. Dubois Dr. Monteiro has no peer. As an indispensable member of the Philadelphia community Dr. Monteiro has proven to be a dedicated neighbor promoting unity and justice. He is inspiring legions of fellow community members, teaching by example and proving that working class people are the most gifted and intelligent force for justice in the world. His commitment to academic integrity propels him to engage the widest spectrum of thought while challenging weaknesses and championing truth. Dr. Monteiro has a special talent for provoking a discipline in young people that cultivates the most fertile grounds for the acquisition of knowledge. He does this in lecture, discussion and publication by focusing the attention of the student on the importance of the question as opposed to blind obedience to the safety of an answer. In every occasion I have had to witness his talent I have come away with an appreciation for and respect of social science. What place of learning would not be delighted to showcase someone with these characteristics on their faculty? Dr. Dubois, exiled from his place of birth by the imperial dictates of capital in these United States, stands honored and appreciated due in a large degree to the prowess of this astute disseminator of fact. As we honor the 146th anniversary of W.E.B. Dubois birth this February 23rd we can make no better contribution to his memory than to stand with Dr. Anthony Monteiro and demand this unjust, shameful censorship by Temple University be reversed. Tenure for Dr. Monteiro, nothing less than an apology and mea culpa from the pretenders of academic privilege that insult this leader of working people in Philadelphia and the world.

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