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Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108101] Wo, 11 Januarie 2006 23:55 na volgende boodskap
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Harvard Educational Review

Volume 75 Number 3 Fall 2005 ISSN 0017-8055
An excerpt from
Black Dean: Race, Reconciliation, and the Emotions of Deanship

JONATHAN DAVID JANSEN
University of Pretoria

As I drove through the gates of the University of Pretoria, I was
already tense. Years of living under apartheid had involuntarily
stressed the muscles and sharpened the mind to attack even the
slightest hint of racial aggression when entering unfamiliar, White
territory. It did not help that the entrance was guarded, as if by
design, by one of the tallest buildings on the South African campus -
a cold, white, rectangular edifice that dwarfed any soul entering the
gates. The two security guards at the "boomgate" approached the
car. I felt some relief, as both were Black: "Brothers," I thought.
I announced that I was the new dean of education and that I would
therefore appreciate entrance through the gates. One of the guards
laughed uncontrollably: "Nice one, comrade, I've heard that one
before." I burst out laughing, imagining myself in his shoes. I would
certainly share the same incredulity if a Black man, coming through the
gates of this former bastion of apartheid, suddenly declared himself
dean. I went through the motions of filling out the visitor's form,
having learned a long time ago that you do not argue with the person at
the tail end of an authoritarian system - whether it be a university
or a shop or a church. As I moved through the gates, I said to myself,
"If I struggle with you, comrade, how on earth am I going to make it
with my White colleagues?"

I introduced myself to the vice principal of the university.1 A
wonderful person, I thought, who spoke English (rather than Afrikaans)
and appeared quite genuine in his manner. This relaxed me. Together we
walked over to the faculty of education, where I would take up the
position of dean - the first Black dean in more than 100 years in
this faculty.

I had been invited to serve as dean at the University of Pretoria by
its new and charismatic vice chancellor, who was determined to
transform this former White Afrikaans university into an African
institution that was, as he put it, locally relevant and
internationally competitive. His vision and commitment created the
space and the opportunity for bold leadership in the deanship. In order
to make my decision to accept, I had consulted many friends, most of
them radicals, then and now. Many of them felt that this was a chance
to assist in creating a genuinely South African university rather than
let this formidable institution continue as a White remnant of
apartheid. Others reminded me, correctly, that I had always insisted I
would never work in a White South African university. But surely things
had changed, I rationalized. This was a South African university that
needed to be transformed to serve all South Africans.

With the vice principal, I walked into a meeting of department heads
chaired by the acting dean. All White, all men, all Afrikaners. They
jumped to their feet to greet me. I encouraged the meeting to continue
and left after a few minutes to survey my new office. The meeting with
my secretary was most uncomfortable. She was in a state of panic,
jumping around as the vice principal introduced me. For a senior
Afrikaner woman who had served several White, conservative deans, this
must have been most traumatic. Now I was alone, and I knew I had to
break the tension. I called her in and encouraged her to tell me how
she would like the office organized, and asked how I could best support
her in her role as the dean's secretary. Gradually, we both relaxed.
In those moments, I realized that I would have to initiate grounds for
any toenadering (coming together, meeting to reconcile) with my
colleagues by creating a nonthreatening, nonracial space in which they
would feel free to talk, work, and live with their new dean. But my
historical commitment to "servant leadership," while workable
within the Black university I had just served as dean and vice
principal, created emotional and political dilemmas in this White
university. Seared into my consciousness as a young boy, I remember
watching my father wash the floors in homes of rich White people in
Cape Town, working as, in the language of those days, a servant. If I
remained true to my commitments and values as a dean, servant
leadership would mean sacrificing my time, energy, and emotions for the
sake of my colleagues. On the other hand, this was risky and could be
interpreted as the Black dean "knowing his place" and being willing
to continue servitude in this White institution. I decided to take the
risk, but with a high degree of alertness to any possible
misinterpretation of my service commitments. Thus, in my interviews
with each staff member, I made the point I had made more comfortably in
other places: I am here to serve you.

During those individual interviews, and in the typical slog of meetings
facing an administrator, I realized that to a large extent my fears
about the acceptance of my authority as dean were unwarranted. At this
university, unlike any other I had worked in, the dean was regarded as
a great and formidable authority figure. I found that I was not
expected to discuss things; I was expected to pronounce on things. The
unbridled power of this university's administration and the
efficiency of this cultural system was light-years away from the
University of Durban, Westville, where I had worked as academic leader
for six years.

A typical example of the cultural differences between the two
university environments occurred when I was called on to chair a
selection committee for a new faculty member. The selection panel
included the union representatives of the academic staff and senior
faculty. I listened to the discussions and tried to summarize
individual positions around the table in order to formulate a proposal
that reflected the consensus of the panel. After a majority of the
panel agreed on a candidate, I asked one more time if this person's
name could be forwarded to "admin" for appointment. The panel
agreed. Then a senior professor caught me completely off guard.
"Despite all this," he said, "at the end of the day it is your
decision as dean as to whom you would appoint." I was stunned. The
question ran through my mind: Why have a committee? I stayed with the
majority decision.

My conversations with individual colleagues constituted the richest
form of "data" on the institution, on the deanship, and on the
possibilities for change. One of my standard practices as dean has been
to meet with faculty members to inquire about their current rank as
academics, their career goals, and the support they required from my
office to attain their personal goals. The interviews were difficult,
as colleagues struggled to open up with this stranger in their midst, a
Black dean asking probing personal questions about their careers. At
the same time, most of my colleagues really appreciated what they said
was "the first time ever" that they were asked about their
intellectual goals and what they required from the dean to make these
goals happen in their lives.

Gradually, my colleagues opened up. Women academics were remarkably
consistent as they recollected stories of abuse at the hands of former
deans and department heads. A typical story was the following:

I disagreed with the dean in a meeting. He called me aside and told me
that that was the last time I would ever disagree with him again. He
also told me that my career was over, and that while he was dean I
would never get [a] promotion. Final. I was destroyed, and I learned
that you never, ever disagree with your dean.

If this confidence represented one voice among many, I would have
considered the possibility that the colleague in question was a
difficult person or that the dean in question had had a bad day. But I
heard stories like these over and over again, in various forms, during
those interviews. I tried to contain my anger at this devastating abuse
of women academics (all of them White Afrikaner women). I realized that
this was a systematic attack on women, which helped explain why there
had never been a woman as dean or department head in this faculty of
education's century of existence. It explained the relentless
Dutch-Calvinist logic of the Afrikaners, in which the man was
responsible to God and the woman to the man, "in subjection." It
explained why women simply did not speak in any of the initial faculty
meetings until I insisted on such participation. It explained the
phenomenon of Afrikaner patriarchy.

Race, Gender, Distance, and Emotion

But there was another revelation that came through during these
interviews with women faculty - the difficulty of dealing with a
Black dean in private conversations about careers. The White women,
with notable exceptions, were very uncomfortable in this private space.
They did not appear relaxed, and they sat far away from me at the
table. I noticed the distance and discomfort. I searched for
explanations even as I conducted the interviews, trying as hard as
possible to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. It struck me
that this was probably the first time in their entire lives, shaped and
molded by apartheid, that my female colleagues had ever occupied space
alone in a room with a Black male adult figure, who also happened to be
their senior authority in the faculty. All those racist myths, I
thought, about pure White women being ravaged by a Black man must have
left indelible marks on the consciousness of these colleagues. I
realized, in those moments, that the struggle would have to be fought
on both sides of the table. My own anger at what I perceived to be a
racial and gendered distancing had to be managed, and their fears about
racial and gendered stereotypes had to be overcome.

Trust was to become the essential ingredient in relationship-building.
I had entered a microcosm of the real-life cauldron of racial
reconciliation after apartheid, something that was difficult, messy,
emotional, and unpredictable. It certainly lacked the glamour and
elegance of Nelson Mandela's celebrated autobiography, Long Walk to
Freedom, or the triumphant mood of the myriad of publications on the
South African "miracle." In my first nine months at the University
of Pretoria, it was women academics who gradually began to open up, to
share, and to commit to a vision of transformation in which I made it
clear that women and Black academics would be readily affirmed in my
tenure as dean.

My relationship with Afrikaner men was very different. Some of them
simply did not show up for the interviews, despite repeated attempts by
my secretary to schedule these meetings. After about a month, this got
to me, and I suspected that there might be real racial dilemmas faced
by these White men (no more than five) in discussing what inevitably
were personal and revealing topics. I decided to call them myself and
insist that they show up immediately for the planned interviews. I did
not want to use that tone as a dean, but I believed that this
situation, bolstered by my intuitive sense that race was the problem,
justified my insistence.

The men, with few exceptions, did not open up during those interviews.
They were "fine." The fact that they were not publishing was not
because they did not know how to do research, but simply because there
was no time. My job, I was told, was simply to provide the space and
the resources, and they would "get on with the job." It was as
simple as that. These interviews were probably the most difficult for
me. It was here that I realized that huge emotional and political
chasms had to be crossed. The men across the table had all done
military service, under compulsion, for the apartheid state. Some, I
noticed from their curricula vitae, were captains in the apartheid
military. Others were members of a secret society of White men, the
Afrikaner Broederbond.2 I had hated these institutions - the visible
and the secretive - as my political awareness developed while I was
an undergraduate student on the politically charged campus of the
University of the Western Cape. Later, as a young teacher in the
volatile townships of the rural and urban Western Cape, I witnessed the
viciousness of the apartheid machinery in the daily lives of Black
people. Now I suddenly felt these emotions awakened as I tried to cross
racial chasms in the face of, at best, the quiet hostility of the
faculty members. Within months and with my encouragement, some of these
reluctant men left the faculty of education, either on early retirement
or resignation. They were not going to change, and I was not going to
allow them to stagnate; a simple and decent way of dealing with this
was for them to leave. Gradually, but after a much longer time than
with the women, several of the Afrikaner men also opened up and became
centrally involved in the administration of the faculty of education.

> From Beleefdheid to Openness

With both Afrikaner men and women, there was another serious impediment
to faculty transformation, something called beleefdheid. It is a
strange Afrikaans word that probably means politeness, but carries with
it a sense of hypocrisy - polite to the extent of being dishonest.
The institutional culture, I observed, was averse to public conflict.

How did this problem express itself during my efforts to democratize
the faculty of education? After undertaking a strategic review of the
strengths and limitations of the faculty, I presented a detailed report
to a full meeting of all academic and administrative staff, together
with an action plan. The report contained some dramatic, wide-ranging
proposals for action, including a one-year forced sabbatical for
eighteen young academics to give them exposure to the best universities
in the world, and a series of steps to build a more diverse faculty
that affirmed Black and women colleagues.

There was, after an hour of presentation, not a single word of critical
feedback from this packed meeting. In fact, the few who spoke said
simply that "this was fine." I realized there was a problem. I
would never know how well or badly I was doing as dean because
beleefdheid insists that you do not confront anyone, tradition requires
that the dean must be right, and past experience suggested that
disagreement with authority could terminate a career. The only
opposition I received to my action plan was my suggestion that the
portraits of those four patriarchs should come down. But it came in the
form of an anonymous letter slipped under my door. This puzzled and
infuriated me. I encouraged and looked forward to challenge and
criticism, but not the cowardice of anonymous correspondence. I sent
the word out on the online bulletin board that such notices were
unacceptable in a democracy. At the next heads of department meeting, I
bemoaned the fact that the only criticism, though couched in a very
beleefd manner, was delivered under my door. Halfway through my
lecture, the former acting dean raised his hand and confessed, "It
was I."

I now was even more determined to change the culture of the faculty by
encouraging greater openness. I used the faculty online bulletin,
called Opforum, to list some provocative ideas for change in the hope
that it would stimulate discussion. Nothing happened. I noted this
silence on Opforum. Very apologetic comments started to come from
younger academics, but at least there were grounds for dialogue. I did
not evaluate those comments or counter proposals, but simply allowed
much of the dialogue to flow. Several comments from the older academics
were intensely angry and awkward, representing the opposite of direct,
intelligent engagement. It was as if after decades of being shut up,
their words were not coming through in the constrained yet challenging
manner typical of rigorous academic exchange. I accepted that it would
take time to modify these angry outbursts into the kind of critical,
informed dialogue that remained riveting in style and content. As new
faculty joined from the outside, Opforum became a regular site for
expressing ideals, for engaging new policies, for challenging the dean.

Faculty Leadership within the Broader Institution

It is one thing trying to change a faculty within a university; it is
another matter when the entire institution is steeped in a top-down,
authoritarian culture that reinforces and replicates this negative
behavior across the campus. The most troubling event in which I
participated as a dean at the University of Pretoria was my first
senate meeting, the senate being a universitywide decisionmaking body.
About 165 persons attended - mainly White, male Afrikaners. A thick
agenda appeared; in less than an hour, the meeting was rushing to a
close. The chairperson, a fine scholar and a graduate of Tukkies, had
done what his predecessors had done before: simply list an item and
make a decision.3 There was no discussion, and even when discussion was
called for, the audience knew not to engage. One of the issues on the
agenda concerned the restructuring of the faculty of veterinary
sciences. Although drastic cost-cutting measures and possible staff
losses were on the horizon, there was still no serious discussion. I
raised my hand and asked, "What is the educational rationale for such
a decision in the vet school?" I explained that while the financial
rationale was clear, the senate, being the highest academic
decisionmaking body in a university, had an obligation to ask questions
about the academic basis for faculty decisions. I was clearly out of
order, and I sensed that immediately from the silence that followed.
There was an awkward fumbling as the chair and the dean of the
veterinary school scrambled for explanations outside of the financial
calculus that had come to determine so much of what universities in
South Africa (and the rest of the planet) do under conditions of
managerialism, markets, and globalization. I was tolerated with polite
answers. Then something else completely unexpected happened.

A young Afrikaner actuarial scientist, apparently buoyed by this
unexpected questioning in the hallowed halls of the senate, started to
raise his own series of questions about the restructuring. To put it
mildly, he was eaten alive. He suffered a series of aggressive
counter-punches from the leadership of the institution. To his credit,
he refused to back down. I got the distinct impression that the reason
this young professor was so aggressively treated was that he was
supposed to know better; he was one of the volk and should have known
his place in an authority-driven culture where knowledge, wisdom, and
the final word rested with his superiors. I could be tolerated as the
ignorant outsider - the Black dean who, if challenged, would raise
inevitable racial questions about White aggression in this cathedral of
Afrikanerdom. This experience, more than any other, made me realize how
faculty-based transformation can be impeded and constrained by
institutional inertia with respect to critical issues of dissent,
democracy, and affirmation.
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108104 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108101] Do, 12 Januarie 2006 03:11 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
Jonas  is tans af-lyn  Jonas
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Ek sien Engelse plasings op die nuusgroep is nou aan die orde van die
dag.
Ons moet maar net konsekwent bly in hierdie verband - of hoe?
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108119 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108104] Do, 12 Januarie 2006 13:48 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
bouer  is tans af-lyn  bouer
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Jonas skryf

> Ek sien Engelse plasings op die nuusgroep is nou aan die orde van die
> dag.
> Ons moet maar net konsekwent bly in hierdie verband - of hoe?

Ek het nog nooit beswaar gemaak teen Engelse
plasings wanneer hulle met SA of SA kultuur te
make het nie. Ek maak alleen beswaar as iemand
wat in Australië is, op Engels Australiese grappe
vertel en waar die gesprek dan in Engels voortgesit
word.
Ek is nogal geinteresseerd in die geskrifte van
en oor Jonathan Jansen. Ek word beindruk deur
die foutlose en soepele Afrikaans wat hierdie bruin
Afrikaners skryf. Veral as mens in ag neem dat
hulle hul akademiese opleiding grotendeels oorsee
gekry het.

Gloudina
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108123 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108119] Do, 12 Januarie 2006 16:05 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
Jonas  is tans af-lyn  Jonas
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Miskien moet Prof Jansen op die rassisme onder bruin/kleurlingmense
fokus. Ons is nou reeds goed bewus van blanke rassisme.
Op 'n onlangse besoek aan die Wes-Kaap het ek verstom gestaan hoe
haatdraend seker Bruinmense jeens Swartmense is.
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108125 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108119] Do, 12 Januarie 2006 20:07 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
Annette  is tans af-lyn  Annette
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Senior Lid
Nooit is 'n lang woord.....

--
Groetnis
Annette
"Hessie" wrote in message
news:1137073739.705208.74640@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

Jonas skryf

> Ek sien Engelse plasings op die nuusgroep is nou aan die orde van die
> dag.
> Ons moet maar net konsekwent bly in hierdie verband - of hoe?

Ek het nog nooit beswaar gemaak teen Engelse
plasings wanneer hulle met SA of SA kultuur te
make het nie. Ek maak alleen beswaar as iemand
wat in Australië is, op Engels Australiese grappe
vertel en waar die gesprek dan in Engels voortgesit
word.
Ek is nogal geinteresseerd in die geskrifte van
en oor Jonathan Jansen. Ek word beindruk deur
die foutlose en soepele Afrikaans wat hierdie bruin
Afrikaners skryf. Veral as mens in ag neem dat
hulle hul akademiese opleiding grotendeels oorsee
gekry het.

Gloudina
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108126 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108125] Vr, 13 Januarie 2006 05:00 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
Jonas  is tans af-lyn  Jonas
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Ja-nee - ek het nie 'n probleem met foutloos en soepele Afrikaans nie.
Engels is die onderwerp hier. Maar as dit in orde is, dan is dit so...
"Bruin Afrikaners?" Wie se indeling is dit - seker dieselfde persoon
wat koningkraai oor die taalmedium op die nuusgroep? (Ek wonder of mens
ook "Bruin Boere" kry?)
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108131 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108101] Vr, 13 Januarie 2006 11:41 Na vorige boodskapna volgende boodskap
Basjan  is tans af-lyn  Basjan
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Volle Lid
"Hessie" wrote in message
news:1137023710.078818.243960@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com.. .
> Harvard Educational Review
>
> Volume 75 Number 3 Fall 2005 ISSN 0017-8055
> An excerpt from
> Black Dean: Race, Reconciliation, and the Emotions of Deanship
>
>
> JONATHAN DAVID JANSEN
> University of Pretoria
>
> As I drove through the gates of the University of Pretoria, I was
> already tense. Years of living under apartheid had involuntarily
> stressed the muscles and sharpened the mind to attack even the
> slightest hint of racial aggression when entering unfamiliar, White
> territory. It did not help that the entrance was guarded, as if by
> design, by one of the tallest buildings on the South African campus -
> a cold, white, rectangular edifice that dwarfed any soul entering the
> ens.

Terwyl dit baie interessant is om te lees oor Prof. Jansen se waarneminge,
merk ek wel dat baie van die situasies wat hy beskryf en toeskryf aan
rasse-verskille, gereeld voorkom in enige soortgelyke situasie waar 'n nuwe,
soms "anderse" gesagsfiguur by 'n groep aansluit. Kleur het hiermee weinig
te make, maar wel lewensuitkyk en -filosofie. Ek dink SA se geskiedenis
plaas haar ongelukkig in die posisie dat daar nog baie lank na apartheid en
rassigheid terugverwys sal word as enige tipe sosiale probleem opduik. Hy
kom my nogals 'n intelligente persoon voor, maar dit skyn wel deur dat hy
die oorgrote meerderheid akademiese en bestuursake deur 'n
wit-Calvinistiese-apartheids-gesags filter bekyk. Sekerlik kan mens hom glad
nie hieroor verkwalik nie, maar ek dink mens moet ook versigtig wees om te
veel gewig aan al die pragtige skrywes te gee - hy kom net so bevooroordeeld
by die UP instelling aan as baie van die mense wat reeds daar aangestel
is...

Basjan
Re: Die Universiteit van Pretoria en Jonathan Jansen [boodskap #108158 is 'n antwoord op boodskap #108101] Sa, 14 Januarie 2006 21:23 Na vorige boodskap
Alexander  is tans af-lyn  Alexander
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Junior Lid
Parlez vous Afrikaans?

On 11 Jan 2006 15:55:10 -0800, "Hessie" wrote:

> Harvard Educational Review
>
> Volume 75 Number 3 Fall 2005 ISSN 0017-8055
> An excerpt from
> Black Dean: Race, Reconciliation, and the Emotions of Deanship
>
>
> JONATHAN DAVID JANSEN
> University of Pretoria
>
> As I drove through the gates of the University of Pretoria, I was
> already tense. Years of living under apartheid had involuntarily
> stressed the muscles and sharpened the mind to attack even the
> slightest hint of racial aggression when entering unfamiliar, White
> territory. It did not help that the entrance was guarded, as if by
> design, by one of the tallest buildings on the South African campus -
> a cold, white, rectangular edifice that dwarfed any soul entering the
> gates. The two security guards at the "boomgate" approached the
> car. I felt some relief, as both were Black: "Brothers," I thought.
> I announced that I was the new dean of education and that I would
> therefore appreciate entrance through the gates. One of the guards
> laughed uncontrollably: "Nice one, comrade, I've heard that one
> before." I burst out laughing, imagining myself in his shoes. I would
> certainly share the same incredulity if a Black man, coming through the
> gates of this former bastion of apartheid, suddenly declared himself
> dean. I went through the motions of filling out the visitor's form,
> having learned a long time ago that you do not argue with the person at
> the tail end of an authoritarian system - whether it be a university
> or a shop or a church. As I moved through the gates, I said to myself,
> "If I struggle with you, comrade, how on earth am I going to make it
> with my White colleagues?"
>
> I introduced myself to the vice principal of the university.1 A
> wonderful person, I thought, who spoke English (rather than Afrikaans)
> and appeared quite genuine in his manner. This relaxed me. Together we
> walked over to the faculty of education, where I would take up the
> position of dean - the first Black dean in more than 100 years in
> this faculty.
>
> I had been invited to serve as dean at the University of Pretoria by
> its new and charismatic vice chancellor, who was determined to
> transform this former White Afrikaans university into an African
> institution that was, as he put it, locally relevant and
> internationally competitive. His vision and commitment created the
> space and the opportunity for bold leadership in the deanship. In order
> to make my decision to accept, I had consulted many friends, most of
> them radicals, then and now. Many of them felt that this was a chance
> to assist in creating a genuinely South African university rather than
> let this formidable institution continue as a White remnant of
> apartheid. Others reminded me, correctly, that I had always insisted I
> would never work in a White South African university. But surely things
> had changed, I rationalized. This was a South African university that
> needed to be transformed to serve all South Africans.
>
> With the vice principal, I walked into a meeting of department heads
> chaired by the acting dean. All White, all men, all Afrikaners. They
> jumped to their feet to greet me. I encouraged the meeting to continue
> and left after a few minutes to survey my new office. The meeting with
> my secretary was most uncomfortable. She was in a state of panic,
> jumping around as the vice principal introduced me. For a senior
> Afrikaner woman who had served several White, conservative deans, this
> must have been most traumatic. Now I was alone, and I knew I had to
> break the tension. I called her in and encouraged her to tell me how
> she would like the office organized, and asked how I could best support
> her in her role as the dean's secretary. Gradually, we both relaxed.
> In those moments, I realized that I would have to initiate grounds for
> any toenadering (coming together, meeting to reconcile) with my
> colleagues by creating a nonthreatening, nonracial space in which they
> would feel free to talk, work, and live with their new dean. But my
> historical commitment to "servant leadership," while workable
> within the Black university I had just served as dean and vice
> principal, created emotional and political dilemmas in this White
> university. Seared into my consciousness as a young boy, I remember
> watching my father wash the floors in homes of rich White people in
> Cape Town, working as, in the language of those days, a servant. If I
> remained true to my commitments and values as a dean, servant
> leadership would mean sacrificing my time, energy, and emotions for the
> sake of my colleagues. On the other hand, this was risky and could be
> interpreted as the Black dean "knowing his place" and being willing
> to continue servitude in this White institution. I decided to take the
> risk, but with a high degree of alertness to any possible
> misinterpretation of my service commitments. Thus, in my interviews
> with each staff member, I made the point I had made more comfortably in
> other places: I am here to serve you.
>
> During those individual interviews, and in the typical slog of meetings
> facing an administrator, I realized that to a large extent my fears
> about the acceptance of my authority as dean were unwarranted. At this
> university, unlike any other I had worked in, the dean was regarded as
> a great and formidable authority figure. I found that I was not
> expected to discuss things; I was expected to pronounce on things. The
> unbridled power of this university's administration and the
> efficiency of this cultural system was light-years away from the
> University of Durban, Westville, where I had worked as academic leader
> for six years.
>
> A typical example of the cultural differences between the two
> university environments occurred when I was called on to chair a
> selection committee for a new faculty member. The selection panel
> included the union representatives of the academic staff and senior
> faculty. I listened to the discussions and tried to summarize
> individual positions around the table in order to formulate a proposal
> that reflected the consensus of the panel. After a majority of the
> panel agreed on a candidate, I asked one more time if this person's
> name could be forwarded to "admin" for appointment. The panel
> agreed. Then a senior professor caught me completely off guard.
> "Despite all this," he said, "at the end of the day it is your
> decision as dean as to whom you would appoint." I was stunned. The
> question ran through my mind: Why have a committee? I stayed with the
> majority decision.
>
> My conversations with individual colleagues constituted the richest
> form of "data" on the institution, on the deanship, and on the
> possibilities for change. One of my standard practices as dean has been
> to meet with faculty members to inquire about their current rank as
> academics, their career goals, and the support they required from my
> office to attain their personal goals. The interviews were difficult,
> as colleagues struggled to open up with this stranger in their midst, a
> Black dean asking probing personal questions about their careers. At
> the same time, most of my colleagues really appreciated what they said
> was "the first time ever" that they were asked about their
> intellectual goals and what they required from the dean to make these
> goals happen in their lives.
>
> Gradually, my colleagues opened up. Women academics were remarkably
> consistent as they recollected stories of abuse at the hands of former
> deans and department heads. A typical story was the following:
>
> I disagreed with the dean in a meeting. He called me aside and told me
> that that was the last time I would ever disagree with him again. He
> also told me that my career was over, and that while he was dean I
> would never get [a] promotion. Final. I was destroyed, and I learned
> that you never, ever disagree with your dean.
>
> If this confidence represented one voice among many, I would have
> considered the possibility that the colleague in question was a
> difficult person or that the dean in question had had a bad day. But I
> heard stories like these over and over again, in various forms, during
> those interviews. I tried to contain my anger at this devastating abuse
> of women academics (all of them White Afrikaner women). I realized that
> this was a systematic attack on women, which helped explain why there
> had never been a woman as dean or department head in this faculty of
> education's century of existence. It explained the relentless
> Dutch-Calvinist logic of the Afrikaners, in which the man was
> responsible to God and the woman to the man, "in subjection." It
> explained why women simply did not speak in any of the initial faculty
> meetings until I insisted on such participation. It explained the
> phenomenon of Afrikaner patriarchy.
>
> Race, Gender, Distance, and Emotion
>
> But there was another revelation that came through during these
> interviews with women faculty - the difficulty of dealing with a
> Black dean in private conversations about careers. The White women,
> with notable exceptions, were very uncomfortable in this private space.
> They did not appear relaxed, and they sat far away from me at the
> table. I noticed the distance and discomfort. I searched for
> explanations even as I conducted the interviews, trying as hard as
> possible to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. It struck me
> that this was probably the first time in their entire lives, shaped and
> molded by apartheid, that my female colleagues had ever occupied space
> alone in a room with a Black male adult figure, who also happened to be
> their senior authority in the faculty. All those racist myths, I
> thought, about pure White women being ravaged by a Black man must have
> left indelible marks on the consciousness of these colleagues. I
> realized, in those moments, that the struggle would have to be fought
> on both sides of the table. My own anger at what I perceived to be a
> racial and gendered distancing had to be managed, and their fears about
> racial and gendered stereotypes had to be overcome.
>
> Trust was to become the essential ingredient in relationship-building.
> I had entered a microcosm of the real-life cauldron of racial
> reconciliation after apartheid, something that was difficult, messy,
> emotional, and unpredictable. It certainly lacked the glamour and
> elegance of Nelson Mandela's celebrated autobiography, Long Walk to
> Freedom, or the triumphant mood of the myriad of publications on the
> South African "miracle." In my first nine months at the University
> of Pretoria, it was women academics who gradually began to open up, to
> share, and to commit to a vision of transformation in which I made it
> clear that women and Black academics would be readily affirmed in my
> tenure as dean.
>
> My relationship with Afrikaner men was very different. Some of them
> simply did not show up for the interviews, despite repeated attempts by
> my secretary to schedule these meetings. After about a month, this got
> to me, and I suspected that there might be real racial dilemmas faced
> by these White men (no more than five) in discussing what inevitably
> were personal and revealing topics. I decided to call them myself and
> insist that they show up immediately for the planned interviews. I did
> not want to use that tone as a dean, but I believed that this
> situation, bolstered by my intuitive sense that race was the problem,
> justified my insistence.
>
> The men, with few exceptions, did not open up during those interviews.
> They were "fine." The fact that they were not publishing was not
> because they did not know how to do research, but simply because there
> was no time. My job, I was told, was simply to provide the space and
> the resources, and they would "get on with the job." It was as
> simple as that. These interviews were probably the most difficult for
> me. It was here that I realized that huge emotional and political
> chasms had to be crossed. The men across the table had all done
> military service, under compulsion, for the apartheid state. Some, I
> noticed from their curricula vitae, were captains in the apartheid
> military. Others were members of a secret society of White men, the
> Afrikaner Broederbond.2 I had hated these institutions - the visible
> and the secretive - as my political awareness developed while I was
> an undergraduate student on the politically charged campus of the
> University of the Western Cape. Later, as a young teacher in the
> volatile townships of the rural and urban Western Cape, I witnessed the
> viciousness of the apartheid machinery in the daily lives of Black
> people. Now I suddenly felt these emotions awakened as I tried to cross
> racial chasms in the face of, at best, the quiet hostility of the
> faculty members. Within months and with my encouragement, some of these
> reluctant men left the faculty of education, either on early retirement
> or resignation. They were not going to change, and I was not going to
> allow them to stagnate; a simple and decent way of dealing with this
> was for them to leave. Gradually, but after a much longer time than
> with the women, several of the Afrikaner men also opened up and became
> centrally involved in the administration of the faculty of education.
>
>> From Beleefdheid to Openness
>
> With both Afrikaner men and women, there was another serious impediment
> to faculty transformation, something called beleefdheid. It is a
> strange Afrikaans word that probably means politeness, but carries with
> it a sense of hypocrisy - polite to the extent of being dishonest.
> The institutional culture, I observed, was averse to public conflict.
>
> How did this problem express itself during my efforts to democratize
> the faculty of education? After undertaking a strategic review of the
> strengths and limitations of the faculty, I presented a detailed report
> to a full meeting of all academic and administrative staff, together
> with an action plan. The report contained some dramatic, wide-ranging
> proposals for action, including a one-year forced sabbatical for
> eighteen young academics to give them exposure to the best universities
> in the world, and a series of steps to build a more diverse faculty
> that affirmed Black and women colleagues.
>
> There was, after an hour of presentation, not a single word of critical
> feedback from this packed meeting. In fact, the few who spoke said
> simply that "this was fine." I realized there was a problem. I
> would never know how well or badly I was doing as dean because
> beleefdheid insists that you do not confront anyone, tradition requires
> that the dean must be right, and past experience suggested that
> disagreement with authority could terminate a career. The only
> opposition I received to my action plan was my suggestion that the
> portraits of those four patriarchs should come down. But it came in the
> form of an anonymous letter slipped under my door. This puzzled and
> infuriated me. I encouraged and looked forward to challenge and
> criticism, but not the cowardice of anonymous correspondence. I sent
> the word out on the online bulletin board that such notices were
> unacceptable in a democracy. At the next heads of department meeting, I
> bemoaned the fact that the only criticism, though couched in a very
> beleefd manner, was delivered under my door. Halfway through my
> lecture, the former acting dean raised his hand and confessed, "It
> was I."
>
> I now was even more determined to change the culture of the faculty by
> encouraging greater openness. I used the faculty online bulletin,
> called Opforum, to list some provocative ideas for change in the hope
> that it would stimulate discussion. Nothing happened. I noted this
> silence on Opforum. Very apologetic comments started to come from
> younger academics, but at least there were grounds for dialogue. I did
> not evaluate those comments or counter proposals, but simply allowed
> much of the dialogue to flow. Several comments from the older academics
> were intensely angry and awkward, representing the opposite of direct,
> intelligent engagement. It was as if after decades of being shut up,
> their words were not coming through in the constrained yet challenging
> manner typical of rigorous academic exchange. I accepted that it would
> take time to modify these angry outbursts into the kind of critical,
> informed dialogue that remained riveting in style and content. As new
> faculty joined from the outside, Opforum became a regular site for
> expressing ideals, for engaging new policies, for challenging the dean.
>
>
> Faculty Leadership within the Broader Institution
>
> It is one thing trying to change a faculty within a university; it is
> another matter when the entire institution is steeped in a top-down,
> authoritarian culture that reinforces and replicates this negative
> behavior across the campus. The most troubling event in which I
> participated as a dean at the University of Pretoria was my first
> senate meeting, the senate being a universitywide decisionmaking body.
> About 165 persons attended - mainly White, male Afrikaners. A thick
> agenda appeared; in less than an hour, the meeting was rushing to a
> close. The chairperson, a fine scholar and a graduate of Tukkies, had
> done what his predecessors had done before: simply list an item and
> make a decision.3 There was no discussion, and even when discussion was
> called for, the audience knew not to engage. One of the issues on the
> agenda concerned the restructuring of the faculty of veterinary
> sciences. Although drastic cost-cutting measures and possible staff
> losses were on the horizon, there was still no serious discussion. I
> raised my hand and asked, "What is the educational rationale for such
> a decision in the vet school?" I explained that while the financial
> rationale was clear, the senate, being the highest academic
> decisionmaking body in a university, had an obligation to ask questions
> about the academic basis for faculty decisions. I was clearly out of
> order, and I sensed that immediately from the silence that followed.
> There was an awkward fumbling as the chair and the dean of the
> veterinary school scrambled for explanations outside of the financial
> calculus that had come to determine so much of what universities in
> South Africa (and the rest of the planet) do under conditions of
> managerialism, markets, and globalization. I was tolerated with polite
> answers. Then something else completely unexpected happened.
>
> A young Afrikaner actuarial scientist, apparently buoyed by this
> unexpected questioning in the hallowed halls of the senate, started to
> raise his own series of questions about the restructuring. To put it
> mildly, he was eaten alive. He suffered a series of aggressive
> counter-punches from the leadership of the institution. To his credit,
> he refused to back down. I got the distinct impression that the reason
> this young professor was so aggressively treated was that he was
> supposed to know better; he was one of the volk and should have known
> his place in an authority-driven culture where knowledge, wisdom, and
> the final word rested with his superiors. I could be tolerated as the
> ignorant outsider - the Black dean who, if challenged, would raise
> inevitable racial questions about White aggression in this cathedral of
> Afrikanerdom. This experience, more than any other, made me realize how
> faculty-based transformation can be impeded and constrained by
> institutional inertia with respect to critical issues of dissent,
> democracy, and affirmation.
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