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Extra $200,000 allocated to ethnic centers

Stanford's four ethnic community centers will get an additional $200,000 over the next two years, Mary Edmonds, vice provost for student affairs announced Tuesday, Sept. 6. The money is for recruitment and retention of students and for educational and cultural programming.

The money, which amounts to $25,000 for each center per year, was welcomed as good news by three of the center's directors. It comes in the wake of the resignation of the fourth center's director, Barbara Smith, who cited "lack of support and leadership" as one reason for leaving a year before the end of her term as acting director of the Black Community Services Center. Smith, who has directed the center for two years and was previously assistant director, quit as of Aug. 31.

Edmonds said the decision to find extra resources for the ethnic centers was made over the summer by President Gerhard Casper with the support of Provost Condoleezza Rice and is tied to a new long-term strategic planning process for the centers.

Jim Larimore, former director of the American Indian Program Office, also has been hired half time to assist the centers in implementation of their overall strategic plan, Edmonds said. Larimore left his post in student affairs last spring to enter the School of Education as a doctoral student.

The money, Edmonds said, "is for both graduate and undergraduate recruitment planning and cultural and educational programming" by the centers for the larger campus community. Specific plans for its use will be worked out with the center directors, she said.

"I believe this is a nice counter-balance to what the president and provost are doing to try to get more [ethnic minority] faculty," she said.

The temporary funding, which university officials hope might lead to endowments of some of the center's programs, is the first new money for programs that the centers have received since the University Committee on Minority Issues in 1989 recommended they each be given at least $7, 500 more annually. About 90 percent of the center's combined budget of $579,000 this past year was for salaries and benefits, and the directors say they have to spend more time than they would like on fund-raising to sponsor cultural and educational events, often in conjunction with student organizations. The directors also are involved with counseling students, recruiting would-be students and helping to orient new freshmen to campus.

Smith, in her resignation Aug. 12 resignation letter to Dean of Students Michael Jackson, said she was leaving to further her education and seek new career opportunities. She criticized Jackson, however, for not providing more support for the ethnic centers, the university for not resolving what she said was a "long-standing salary inequity issue" for some center staff, and Edmonds for not informing her of a meeting last spring with some students to discuss the Black Community Service Center's strategic plan.

"It became very apparent," she wrote to Jackson, that neither he nor Edmonds "saw me in the director's position permanently."

In an interview, Smith said that "the lack of support from the dean of students and other areas of student affairs is not something new. It's something that has been going on for years." By resigning and making her reasons known, Smith said, "I feel I opened up a can of worms and now it's basically up to people to deal with the problem." She has worked at Stanford 14 years.

Her capable assistant director quit in July to take a more secure position at another university, she said, and she was facing additional duties. "I was to implement two different strategic plans, mentor an Irvine fellow in a new program, deal with the Black Student Union which has lost its student fee allocation, while still going through the director's search, running the center's core programs and going to school. It's the kind of thing that has gone on too long."

Edmonds expressed "surprise and disappointment "at Smith's resignation. "This is especially true because her acting position was secure for the coming year and if she were not appointed as the permanent director of the BCSC her position as assistant director was saved for her to return to. However, she plans to accelerate her education so that she can earn her bachelor's degree."

Said Jackson: "I was really sorry to see Barbara resign because she has really provided good service to the Stanford community and the black community for a number of years. She was particularly helpful in helping us recover from the resignation of Keith Archuleta two years ago."

Smith stepped into the acting director's position in June 1992 when Archuleta resigned following his arrest for secretly videotaping a student as she undressed. Initially Smith was to serve as acting director for a year while a search was conducted, but she stayed on last year after the Ohio educator selected for the job declined to accept it for personal reasons. A new search for a permanent director will begin this fall with the goal of hiring a permanent director for the center by winter quarter, Jackson said.

In the meantime, Jackson has named Blair Bowman, a 1992 graduate of Stanford Law School, to serve as interim director. Bowman and his wife, Julie Taylor, associate director of admissions, have been resident fellows at Mirrielees House for two years.

Assisting Bowman will be Katrina Youmans, who has worked in a variety of Human Resources and Student Affairs positions since 1974.

The ethnic centers are "very complex organizations, not without tension and stress," Jackson said. "It has taken a number of years to stabilize these programs and get them in a position to carry out their missions without feeling under siege. The goal is to have the centers adequately staffed to fulfill their mission and help the university fulfill its academic mission. We've had to try to do that in the context of budget cuts over four years."

While the centers have not been hit by budget cuts directly, he said, they have probably been negatively affected by student affairs budget cuts of nearly 30 percent over the past four years. The previous dean of students had four associate deans to assist in leadership, Jackson noted, and now he has none.

Center staff also are vulnerable to being perceived as disloyal to the university by some, said Larimore. "Because part of their role is to be advocates for students, they may be seen to be not as much team players or supporters of the division as others," he said.

"I used to have great conversations with [former Provost] James Rosse about that. His position was that there are some folks whose job was to be a thorn in the side of the university. My position was that that was fine on occasion, but in the long run, they will be perceived that way."

Frances Morales, director of El Centro Chicano, said it is particularly difficult to deal with low student morale at times. Students, for example, were delighted that 1,000 people showed up for the Cesar Chavez commemoration their organization planned last year, but were demoralized when the student body as a whole did not vote for the organization's request to receive a portion of student fees.

The salary issue to which Smith referred in her resignation letter refers to a request by the four center directors, and more recently as well by Dean of Students Jackson, to raise the classification of the centers' assistant directors or program coordinators to the same rank as other program coordinators within student affairs.

Larimore, who recommended reclassification for the Native American Cultural Center assistant director in 1992, said the center directors have been "frustrated" by the reclassification process, which "has changed several times, and has gone on beyond what people feel they are able to commit to in good faith."

Bobbrie Brown, director of human resources for student affairs, said the two initial requests for reclassification were turned down and that a new review process of program coordinator duties and responsibilities is under way. "We've made a very sincere effort to review the jobs fairly," Brown said. "Because a person disagrees with it, that doesn't mean the [reclassification] decision was wrong."

The new funding for the center is "the single most significant development for the Asian American Activities Center and all the ethnic centers since the UCMI Report of 1989," said Rick Yuen, director of the AAAC, who has also been involved in trying to raise the classification of his assistant. The money will "enable us to make qualitative gains in recruiting and retaining the best students," he said.

Benny Shendo, director of the American Indian center, said the announcement of more funding "was a welcome surprise for me, my first day on the job." Shendo came to Stanford from the University of New Mexico. BCSC interim director Bowman said he was "thrilled."

Morales said the funding "puts us in a pro-active role; it helps us to plan ahead and think of the center's strategic plan. It puts us in a position of strength."



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