In February 2020, the Society of Senior Ford Fellows sent a letter to Harvard University expressing concern and disappointment over the decision to deny tenure to Dr. Lorgia García Peña. A copy of the letter is posted below:
February 26, 2020
Office of the President
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Dear President Bacow and Board of Governors:
The Society of Senior Ford Fellows (SSFF) would like to make known our concern and disappointment over the decision to deny tenure to Dr. Lorgia García Peña. Dr. García Peña is a well-regarded member of our ranks, having been awarded Ford Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowships in 2006 and 2015, respectively, for her interdisciplinary work that examines the complexity and importance of Afro-Dominicanidad via musical, literary, political, and historical narratives. We also are deeply concerned about what Harvard’s action
may imply about the university’s commitment to Ethnic Studies as a discipline and for scholars and students of color, to embracing new disciplines, fostering underrepresented professors and students, or enabling the development of innovative pedagogy. We are concerned that this matter may hamper Harvard’s ability to be fully engaged in efforts to change the academy for the better by making it truly reflective of current scholarship, demographics, or 21st century approaches to teaching. Given this unfortunate situation, we must join with various colleagues in the nation and abroad to ask that Harvard initiate a transparent and ethical release of information outlining the reasons for Dr. García Peña’s tenure denial.
Dr. García Peña’s scholarship has national and international acclaim. She has been awarded numerous accolades by important scholarly organizations for her publications and was named Harvard’s Professor of the Year in 2015. The following year she received the Roslyn Abramson Award for excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and Graduate Mentoring, and the Harvard Graduating Class of 2017 recognized her as Professor of Year. In addition to her distinction in research and teaching, Dr. García Peña has served on numerous search committees for tenure-track faculty positions and engaged in the hiring process for lecturers in various departments, as well as having been a principal member of the search committee for the 2019-2020 Warren Center Faculty Fellowships. This tenure decision is baffling, given her transformational work in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Latinx Studies, along with her prolific and high-quality record of publication and her status as a beloved teacher.
The SSFF considers Dr. García Peña a vital, important, and venerated member of our community. If the denial of tenure has not been entirely fair, as it appears, then this individual case would be tantamount to an affront against each one of us and puts us on guard. If an exceptional scholar like her can be denied tenure, then it seems that other scholars of color could meet the same fate at Harvard. We call on Harvard to rectify this situation and, in the process, restore our faith in your institution so that when we utter its motto, veritas, we know that indeed the word is made manifest there and in the academy as a whole.
On Behalf of the Society of Senior Ford Fellows Board
Susan C. Antón, President