Shortly following the resignation of former McMicken College of Arts & Sciences Dean Ronald Jackson Monday evening, the former dean explained his decision to A&S faculty members in an email.
In the email, Jackson said the decision was one of the toughest in his career and that he was grateful for the opportunity to lead the largest college at his alma mater.
Jackson's nearly year and a half tenure was marked with controversy. The college is currently running a deficit that Jackson said in the letter he was not informed about when he was originally interviewed for the job.
"Although I was told the college had a $1.2M surplus when I interviewed, after I arrived I found myself presented with the largest budget deficit the college has ever seen, and my colleagues and I worked arduously to turn things around," Jackson wrote in the email. "The college is now two-thirds of the way out of a deficit that could take years to emerge from. We should all be proud of our efforts so far."
In the 2012-13 Spring semester former A&S assistant dean Jana Braziel, resigned citing failed leadership in the college. Braziel's resignation sparked followed up emails of a similar nature from other A&S faculty.
“I am, as you must also now surmise, decidedly not a supporter of you Ron, and I unequivocally feel that you have failed as the leader of the McMicken College,” Braziel wrote in an April email obtained by The News Record. “In short, I believe that you lack the character and the leadership to remain in this position.”
Early in the 2013-14 Fall semester a racist cartoon derogatorily depicting Jackson and assistant A&S dean Carol Tonge Mack circulated on campus and throughout faculty.
The cartoon, which Jackson addressed in his email, eventually led to several diversity-based events on campus, including a lecture by Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson.
Read Jackson's email in its entirety as written:
After careful consideration I have decided to make one of the toughest decisions of my career and resign from the position as Dean of McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, effective immediately. This moment is bittersweet. I have advocated and worked tirelessly for the college since being appointed dean. I have had the opportunity to serve my alma mater and in the capacity as dean I have made a larger difference in the lives of alumni and current A&S students, faculty, and staff than I could have ever dreamed of outside of this position.
Over the course of my tenure we have put in place the university's first Maymester as well as the college's first Assistant Dean of Recruitment and Retention and Chief Diversity Officer, in addition to a new A&S Staff Bonus Incentive Plan and STEM fee to support STEM education/research. At the moment there are committees comprised of dedicated faculty who are preparing to launch the McMicken Experience program (including research, internships, study abroad or internationalization, and civic engagement requirements for students) next fall. Furthermore, there are faculty who have dedicated themselves to reviewing multiple drafts of a new A&S College Research Professorship as well as new faculty and student medals of excellence. There are lots of exciting new initiatives on the horizon for the college.
Although I was told the college had a $1.2M surplus when I interviewed, after I arrived I found myself presented with the largest budget deficit the college has ever seen, and my colleagues and I worked arduously to turn things around. The college is now two-thirds of the way out of a deficit that could take years to emerge from. We should all be proud of our efforts so far.
The bitterness of this moment is in all that came with being the college's first and the university's only African American dean. While I stood proudly as dean I along with the UC community endured racist cartoons and public mischaracterizations aimed at me. I find this not only unfortunate but also indignifying for anyone, but this is especially hurtful and shameful in an educational environ designed to trained the next generation of industry and civic leaders to be good citizens. I am resigning, and I do so with the hope that perhaps someone else will occupy this role and be embraced for their leadership, and my alma mater will be all the better for it.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the University of Cincinnati McMicken College of Arts & Sciences as your dean. As you can see it has been bittersweet. We have plenty to celebrate, and we also have some work to do as a university and college. I am confident we will get there. Until then I look forward to working alongside my colleagues, finishing a few book projects, and contributing to the vibrant intellectual enterprise within A&S.