NAACP official says College discriminates

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NAACP official says College discriminates


William and Mary’s hiring practices are racially motivated, Ely Dorsey, chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a visiting professor in the business school, told The Flat Hat this week.

The College is not committed to their Affirmative Action program, he said, pointing to the six black professors on a faculty of approximately 300.

Dale Robinson, director of the College’s Affirmative Action Office, “strongly disagrees” with Dorsey’s charge that the school is not making a concerted effort to attract black professors. Robinson does acknowledge that the school has not reached its target of 12 minority faculty for the 1985-1986 year.

Dorsey attributes the lack of blacks in the faculty to racism. “There is an element of racism in a distinct minority of the faculty,” Dorsey said. He said that this is manifested in the various schools’ and departments’ hiring practices. He believes that racism has prevented black candidates from getting teaching positions. Last year, nine black professors taught on campus, this year there are six.

Robinson said that the three black professors who did not return this fall were all visiting professors who only intended to stay in Williamsburg for a year or two. None of these people were offered contracts to continue teaching at the College because no positions were open for them. At any given time, about 80 percent of the faculty is on tenure while the remaining 20 percent is made up of newer faculty and visiting professors, Robinson said.

At this time, however, only four black professors have been granted tenure. Dorsey believes that, with a minimum of work, the College could attract many top black scholars to teach in Williamsburg, but that there is “no commitment.” To prove this, he notes that in three months over the summer the business school hired three black administrators and found two highly qualified black candidates for teaching positions. This was accomplished with an additional cost to the budget of only $250, according to Dorsey.

Robinson explains that “the search efforts in the School of Business are not substantially different from those used elsewhere at the College.” The Office of Affirmative Action aids black candidates by referring them to the specific departments and placing blanket ads in education journals to attract applicants. In the past few years, Robinson said the school has made great progress in hiring female professors and similar progress should be made with blacks.

Yet, Dorsey believes that current hiring practices are insufficient. “That is why we need Affirmative Action programs,” he said. He classifies claims that the school is actively trying to increase representation among the faculty as “pure boulderdash.” The Affirmative Action Office is merely “giving lip service” to minorities, he said.

Robinson feels “the College is quite sincere.” In response to Dorsey’s charges, President Paul Verkuil said, “We [William and Mary administrators] are making efforts to find and attract black professors and will continue to do so.” Verkuil said that the commitment to Affirmative Action is embedded in the school’s policies.

Currently, each school and department makes their own personal hiring decisions, according to Robinson. Although procedures vary from one department to another, generally the department or school forms a committee to review the applicants’ credentials and to hire an individual. It is the recommendation of the committee that determines which candidate is offered a contract to teach.

Visiting professors are hired on a permanent basis if openings become available and the professor wants to remain in Williamsburg, Robinson said. None of the three black visiting professors were retained for this year simply because there were no openings for them at the College. Dorsey admits that claims of racism entering into the decisions made over those three professors is “pure speculation.”


Swem Special Collections


September 27, 1985
Flat Hat Volume 75, Number 5


The William and Mary Flat Hat


September 27, 1985


Rachel Brown, metadata and transcription


THe Flat Hat 09-27-1985.pdf


Swem Special Collections, “NAACP official says College discriminates ,” The Lemon Project, accessed September 15, 2019,

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