After Fighting to Gain Tenure, Dr. Paul Harris Leaves UVA on His Own Terms

Dr. Paul Harris—a Black scholar whose tenure denial at the University of Virginia (UVA) was reversed following a groundswell of support from across the nation—has accepted a teaching position at Penn Sate University.

Dr. Paul Harris

The initial denial of tenure for Harris—a former assistant professor of education at UVA—sparked outrage among numerous minority scholars who denounced what they viewed as a biased initial tenure review. More specifically, the Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Committee that voted to deny Harris tenure falsely claimed that his publication record didn’t meet expectations, noting his work in the Journal of African American Males in Education seemed to be “self-published,” even though the journal is a selective, peer-reviewed journal. Following the initial decision to deny tenure, more than 4,000 of Harris’ former students and colleagues signed a petition denouncing the decision.

Reversing course, the P&T committee later voted to recommend Harris for tenure and promotion and his case was approved by UVA’s provost and the school’s Board of Visitors. Prior to the reversal, Diverse hosted a webcast last July where Harris joined a number of prominent minority scholars to discuss inherent biases within the promotion and tenure process at a number of institutions.

Harris—an alumnus of UVA—said that he and his family were invested in the Charlottesville community. In addition to serving as a faculty member at UVA, he pastored Victory Church since 2018. But after visiting Penn State once they made him an offer with tenure, Harris said that he knew “this was the place for us,” he told Diverse in an interview. 

“We began to take an inventory on the toll that it took on us,” Harris said of the appeals process that lasted for months and drew national headlines before UVA ultimately reversed its decision. “It was about our health—physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

Harris added: “For us as a family, the bigger story has really always been about how people spoke up, showed up when they saw what was happening,” he said, adding that the collective protests “gave voice to my case and the broader issues relating to P&T processes.”

At Penn State, Harris—whose research focuses on the identity development of Black male student athletes; college and career readiness of underrepresented students; and the empowerment of anti-racist school counselors—will teach graduate students in the counselor education program with the goal of also developing some undergraduate offerings. He will hold an affiliate appointment with African American Studies and the Center for Educational Disparities.

Dr. Royel M. Johnson, an assistant professor of Higher Education within the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State University said that the addition of Harris to the faculty is a major win.

“Dr. Harris is an exceptional scholar whose interdisciplinary expertise is synergistically aligned with Dean Kimberly Lawless’ vision for an anti-racist College of Education,” said Johnson. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with Dr. Harris to address some of the country’s most pressing educational challenges related to access and equity.”

Walter Hudson can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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Roueche Center Forum: Involving All Faculty in the Guided Pathways Work Is Key

Guided pathways is a reform movement that aims to help community college students graduate, transfer to four-year institutions and attain jobs with value in the labor market by reframing the entire student journey.

For this to happen, the guided pathways framework includes four pillars of implementation for colleges:

Pillar 1: Clarify the Paths Pillar 2: Help Students Get on a Path Pillar 3: Help Students Stay on Their Path Pillar 4: Ensure Students Are Learning

Coral Noonan Terry

Faculty involvement in the work of guided pathways — particularly around Pillar 4 — is key. This pillar asks that faculty (full-time and part-time) be fully engaged in the pathways mission and, in turn, use their classrooms to engage students in the process.

However, not all faculty know if their college is engaged in guided pathways. According to data collected from the 2019 Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, which is based on responses from 7,534 faculty across 73 colleges, 68% of full-time faculty and 39% of part-time faculty report their college is in the process of implementing guided pathways. On the other hand, 32% of full-time faculty and 61% of part-time faculty report not knowing whether their college is implementing pathways. Furthermore, among faculty who are aware, 45% of full-time faculty and 58% of part-time faculty say they need more professional development about their role in the work.

When faculty know their college is implementing guided pathways, their perceptions of their students

Linda Garcia

and their own behaviors reflect higher levels of engagement. In response to ‘How often do your students work on a paper or project that requires integrating ideas from various sources?’ 60% of faculty who say their college is implementing guided pathways responded “often” or “very often,” while 49% of faculty who report not knowing if their college is implementing guided pathways responded the same way.

Since faculty engagement is essential for guided pathways reform, the Center for Community College Student Engagement led the Ensure Students Are Learning Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project’s purpose was to develop resources that institutions can use to engage faculty in the pathways work. As one element of the project, Center staff interviewed more than 250 community college faculty members to collect descriptions of innovative teaching practices related to Pillar 4. These interviews resulted in a searchable database of faculty stories.

Another essential condition of the guided pathways model is a commitment to student success and equity, and a specific component of Pillar 4 is an institution-wide commitment to equity-minded, asset-based teaching improvement. One faculty member who was interviewed described such an institutional commitment: “Inclusivity and diversity at our college is a foundational building block for how we teach and who we teach.”

Another faculty member described taking advantage of an opportunity to explore inclusivity: “Doctors Without Borders came to the city, and there was an opportunity to take my classroom there. So, I embedded that into my curriculum as a, ‘Let’s have a field trip outside of the campus, where we could explore what cultural awareness and inclusivity meant.’” Another instructor described using “sociological imagination” — a process through which students learn that seemingly personal or private matters are often connected to larger social and historical conditions. This practice involves creative activities, such as songs, poetry and short stories, to help students explore critical social justice issues throughout history. Another instructor described an open-ended research project in which, in lieu of a traditional research project, students can alternatively read and analyze a historical novel or participate in and reflect upon a race talk forum hosted by the college.

Courtney Adkins

The toolkit houses a searchable database of these faculty stories. It also contains equity tools — five briefs and four spotlight series documents — that explore equity-centered practices that college professionals can employ to ensure all students are learning.

Turning the tide on Pillar 4 will require engagement and commitment from faculty, but the effort should not rest solely on their shoulders. Enriching and assessing student learning should be an institution-wide effort. To bolster these efforts, the toolkit also contains campus conversation starters and professional development agendas.

Find the toolkit at


The authors include Dr. Linda García, executive director, Dr. Coral Noonan-Terry, program manager, and Dr. Courtney Adkins, assistant director of publications for the Center for Community College student Engagement (CCCSE). 

The Roueche Center Forum is co-edited by Drs. John E. Roueche and Margaretta B. Mathis of the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership, Department of Educational Leadership, College of Education, Kansas State University.

This article originally appeared in the May 13, 2021 edition of Diverse. Read it here.

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Dr. Marye Anne Fox, Former NC State University Chancellor, Dead at 73

Former North Carolina State University Chancellor Dr. Marye Anne Fox died Sunday night at age 73 at her home in Austin, Texas, after a long illness, The News & Observer reported.

Dr. Marye Ann Fox

Fox is the only woman to have led NC State University, having been appointed chancellor in 1998.

In 2004, Fox left NC State to be chancellor of University of California San Diego, becoming the first woman to be appointed permanent chancellor.

Born in Canton, Ohio, Fox was a nationally recognized scientist. At University of Texas, she was a chemistry professor and vice president for research.

She was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010 by then-President Barack Obama for her “research contributions in the areas of organic photochemistry and electrochemistry,” according to the National Medals website.

President George W. Bush named Fox to his board of science and technology advisers.

She held a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame College, a master’s degree in organic chemistry at Cleveland State University and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth University.



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Education Department Announces Emergency Grants for Higher Ed

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced more than $36 billion in emergency grants under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act for postsecondary education.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona

These grants will help over 5,000 higher ed institutions provide emergency financial aid to students.

ARP will give more than $10 billion to community colleges, more than $2.6 billion to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), approximately $190 million to Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and more than $6 billion to minority-serving institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs).

The Department released guidance on how schools can use these funds to support students.



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