Dr. Kaia Shivers, Ph.D. Rutgers University, M.A. Clark Atlanta University, B.S. Florida A&M University, Clinical Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies, New York University: “The two main objectives in teaching is…”
“Alex Southwell” (a pseudonym) shares a diversity at today’s American universities horror story.
I was appointed by the dean of General Studies [at Hudson University] to serve as the chair for a writing hiring committee, a committee charged with hiring one full-time writing professor, who not only could teach first-year writing classes but also offerings in journalism. The committee of three met late in the fall semester to discuss the first group of candidates, before undertaking the second set of Skype interviews. I mentioned that I had received an email from one of the candidates and shared it with the committee members. After reading the email aloud, I argued that the missive effectively disqualified the candidate. The writing was riddled with awkward expression, malapropisms, misplaced punctuation, and other conceptual and formal problems. Rarely had a first-year student issued an email to me that evidenced more infelicitous prose. I asked my fellow committee members how we could possibly hire someone to teach writing who had written such an email, despite the fact that it represented only a piece of occasional writing. The candidate could not write. I also pointed back to her application letter, which was similarly awkward and error-laden. My committee colleagues argued that “we do not teach grammar” in our writing classes. Sure, I thought. And a surgeon doesn’t take vital signs or draw blood. That doesn’t mean that the surgeon wouldn’t be able to do so when required. …
The committee went on to hire the woman in question. Since assuming her position, the new hire posted an official faculty profile linked from Hudson’s General Studies program page. Her faculty profile page betrays the same awkward prose, poor incorporation of quotes, and other problems of expression typical of first-year student writers, but usually not professors. The profile also includes a glaring grammatical error. I strongly believe that her official evaluations are likely as bad as her RateMyProfessors.com reviews.
To be perfectly clear, I am not arguing against the diversification of the faculty and student populations within Hudson’s General Studies program and beyond. Rather, I am suggesting that the diversity initiatives recently introduced by the university and our program have been hastily and thoughtlessly administered and mistakenly construed, to the detriment of academic integrity and real equity. Qualified academics can be found among all population groups. The university must ensure that those selected are qualified, first and foremost, not by their identities per se, but by what they know and are able to do and teach. It is sheer cynicism to suppose that qualified candidates cannot be found among minority groups. Blatant tokenism in hiring and promotion jeopardizes the integrity of higher education and also undermines the objectives that diversity initiatives aim to promote.
Advice Goddess identifies the diversity hire:
The professor mentioned — who writes “The two main objectives in teaching is …” — appears to be Kaia Shivers and the school appears to be NYU. The program is their “Liberal Studies” program.
I’ve preserved a screenshot of Kaia Shivers’ online page from NYU. …
The first line of a paper she published has a similar error in the first line — one that would disqualify a person from being my assistant. It should also disqualify a person from becoming a professor, and the notion that skin color would give a person pass is one of the most disgustingly racist things I can think of.
Negotiating Identity in Transnational Spaces: Consumption of Nollywood Films in the African Diaspora of the United States
Kaia Niambi Shivers
The only wonder is that Yale has not (so far) hired her as a dean.
Hat tip to the Barrister.