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President's Commission on Black Faculty & Staff

10th Anniversary

President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff Celebrated 10 Years

In this 2008-2009 academic year, the President's Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff celebrated its 10th anniversary.

During the summer of 1998, Clemson University President Constantine W. Curris created the Commission. The Commission was formed in response to requests from the University’s Black Faculty and Staff Association, led by Barbara Hamberg who was Association president, and with the approval of the Clemson Faculty Senate and the Classified Staff Association.

At the Commission’s first meeting in September 1998, President Curris emphasized the importance of access and diversity to the campus and the future of the state of South Carolina. He indicated a need to reassess progress in promoting access and equity for black faculty and staff.  

After President Curris left the University, the Commission continued to perform its work with the support of President James F. Barker, who has championed many of the proposals the Commission has put forth. He has praised the Commission and its efforts to incorporate its mission into his One Clemson vision.

The Commission is charged with documenting the status of black faculty and staff and advising the president and Administrative Council with specific recommendations for increasing diversity and enhancing the quality of life among black employees in the University’s workforce. To address its charge, the Commission adopted the following strategic tasks:

  • Describe the legal and policy environment at the national, state and local (Clemson University) level.
  • Provide qualitative and quantitative descriptors of the status of black employees at Clemson University.
  • Describe the activities and programs developed and implemented at the University level and within administrative units used at Clemson to comply with the standards set forth in the policies.
  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses in the system to accomplish change in the status of black employees at Clemson University.

The Commission’s organizational structure consists of 13 members — six faculty, six classified or unclassified staff and one Administrative Council member — who are appointed by the president. Commissioners are appointed to a three-year renewable term.

These are the first Commissioners appointed to serve:

Bruce W. Ransom, Chair
Jessyna M. McDonald, Deputy Chair
Herman Green
Almeda R. Jacks
Carlos A. Hill
Claudette Alexander-Thomason
Gussie Pinson
Juanita Clinkscales
Rosa Grayden
Raymond Mc Gill
Peter Skewes
James S. Simmons
Calvin L. Williams

Commission Chairs  

Bruce Ransom, 1998-2001
Jessyna McDonald, 2001-2003
Isaac Wallace, 2003-2005
Abel Bartley, 2005 to present

Over the years, the Commission has worked within the framework of its duty as a fact-finding and advisory organization.

Highlights of Recent and Ongoing Commission Activities

  • Participates on various University committees, councils and commissions each year
  • Sponsors receptions to welcome new black faculty and staff
  • Sponsors annual Open Forums to provide information and obtain feedback from the University community
  • Co-sponsored a survey on the University work environment for black faculty and staff
  • Developed an online resource guide for new black faculty and staff
  • Sponsors Commission retreats to develop planning strategies
  • Maintains a Commission Web site
  • Sponsored the University-wide “President’s Summit on Community and Diversity”
  • Worked with the President’s Taskforce on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff to establish recruitment and retention initiatives and developed a report of those findings and recommendations
  • Published a Report to the President of Preliminary Findings

Current Commissioners

Abel Bartley, History Department and Pan African Studies, Commission Chair
Sandra Parker, Publications and Promotion, Commission Deputy Chair
Isaac Wallace, University Libraries
Barbara Kennedy-Dixon, Athletic Department
Rosa Grayden, Sociology
Phil Grayson, Athletic Department
Gail DiSabatino, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Curtis White, Agriculture and Biological Engineering
Cathy Sturkie, Faculty Senate
Shirley Timmons, School of Nursing
Michelle Martin, Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Constancio Nakuma, Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Services
Drew Lanham, Forestry and Natural Resources

The Commission held its 2009 Open Forum on April 2, 2009. The University’s new chief diversity officer, Leon Wiles, is the keynote speaker.

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