UMass Boston

Read the Assessment of the Africana Studies Department and the Trotter Institute

09/07/2022| Prince Lobel Tye, LLP

Following are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the assessment:

Read the Executive Summary of Report on Assesment conducted by Prince Lobel Tye, LLP.

Q: Why did the university hire an outside firm to do an assessment of the Africana Studies Department and the Trotter Institute?

A: Africana Studies and the Trotter have faced challenges over the past several years that have led to high staff turnover. It is not uncommon for universities to seek an outside, objective assessment of a particular area to improve its effectiveness. The law firm of Prince Lobel Tye—in particular, attorneys Walter Prince, Dan Tarlow and Ralph Martin—were selected to conduct the assessment because of their strong experience assisting other higher education clients in reviewing academic, research, and student-related organizational functions.

Q: How long did the assessment take?

A: The law firm was engaged in January 2022 and began its work in April, which included extensive interviews and research. Their report was delivered to the university at the end of August, with the executive summary being released to the campus community on September 7, 2022.

Q: How much did the assessment cost the university, and couldn’t that money have been better spent on staffing the department and institute?

A: The Africana Studies Department and the Trotter Institute are essential to the university and are a high priority for UMass Boston. In order for them to effectively contribute to advancing the university’s academic, scholarly, and service mission, they require additional resources. The total cost of the assessment was $250,000, which represents the beginning of a series of investments in the department and institute to ensure their long-term viability.

Q: What other investments will the university make?

A: The university is committed to an initial investment in the department and institute of $1.9 million. This includes, for Africana Studies, hiring a senior scholar and two tenure-track faculty positions. For the Trotter Institute, the investments will include hiring a new director; a staff member to support grant-writing, communications, and collaboration with the other CANALA centers and institutes; funding a graduate assistantship; and increasing operational funding.

Q: Why were two previous searches for faculty for Africana Studies canceled?

A: The searches were canceled to allow the university to ensure that rigorous best practices were utilized and to better assess the long-term needs of the Africana Studies Department and the Trotter Institute. This assessment brought a better understanding of the nuances of their unique and rich histories and provided a foundation for making thoughtful plans for their futures.

Q: How does canceling searches and changing the department chair of the Africana Studies Department fit with the administration’s goals and the university’s mission?

A: The university believes that a thriving, engaged department and institute are essential to the objective of becoming a leading antiracist, health-promoting university. The assessment and hiring plans moving forward provide investments, commitments, and action steps that further the department’s contributions toward this objective.