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Lovely A.

Warren
City Hall Room 308A, 30 Church Street Mayor
Rochester, New York 14614-1290
www.cityofrochester.gov

January 30, 2020

Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, Chancellor


SUNY System Administration
State University Plaza
353 Broadway
Albany, NY 12246

Dr. Johnson:
As the Mayor of the City of Rochester, NY and the Co-Chair of the National League of Cities Race,
Education and Leadership (REAL) Initiative, I need to express my grave concern and frustration
regarding The College at Brockport’s unwillingness to empower and act to support its Chief
Diversity Officer and the insincere actions of the institution’s leadership in the wake of the CDO’s
dismissal.
Be assured, my concerns are not primarily regarding Dr. Archie, but lack of progress to address
the systemic and institution racism experience by students and staff of color. SUNY requires its
schools to have Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs). However, CDOs must be truly empowered and
have real partners throughout an institution’s leadership to identify and implement the necessary
structural changes. A Chief Diversity Officer in name alone is not enough and it is evident that
through this dismissal, the CDO appointment at The College at Brockport seems to have been
made in name only.
I ask you to examine across the collegiate spectrum what institutions have done to advance
diversity and inclusion. I also ask you to research the number of complaints of racism; sexism and
other discrimination filed with CDOs, including at the College at Brockport, to see if the needs of
students and faculty have been addressed.
In this immediate case that prompted this letter, I must note that regardless of the cause for Dr.
Archie’s dismissal, the systemic actions at the College at Brockport to stifle his leadership and its
failure to engage in the difficult and uncomfortable work needed to achieve equity demands to be
rectified. After reviewing the school’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion plan - and the limited reporting
of results to date - it is clear that while the facade of words and documentation exists the work
necessary to truly achieve an equitable and diverse campus remains woefully unfulfilled.
This reality was evident at the public meeting held on campus on January 27. The event was
dominated by the current university leadership stating their views and actions. Leaving the
hundreds of students, faculty and concerned citizens in attendance roughly a meager half-hour to
share their thoughts and rightful outrage. Most disconcerting was the statement made by President
Macpherson when asked why the police were present in the room. She responded it’s because the
“Rochester community” was in attendance.
Regardless of her intent, the impact of those words hurt all people of conscience in the room and
they will linger with us far beyond the current matter.

Phone: 585.428.7045 Fax: 585.428.6059 TTY: 585.428.6054 EEO/ADA Employer


We have been encouraged to welcome the appointment of Dr. Lorraine Aker as the College’s
interim Chief Diversity Officer. However, this is cold comfort in light of the fact that it took President
Macpherson four years to appoint a person of color to her cabinet, and then only after the inception
of this crisis, while bypassing Dr. Archie’s deputy to do so. I would be remiss if I did not
acknowledge that this is not a slight to Dr. Aker—who we hope is dedicated to the equity work that
is so needed. Rather, these actions are a clear indication of university’s need for systemic change.
In fact, the college administration’s treatment of Dr. Archie while he was employed there, their
response to the community; their joining of ranks and their token replacement are textbook
examples of institutional racism. It is imperative in the issues of diversity and inclusion that we lead
by example. If we do not start these efforts from the top, no one will follow.
The double standard is obvious. It would be intolerable to the community and to my Senior
Leadership Team if my cabinet was comprised of solely black individuals – nor would I want it to
be because it is my belief that all institutions should reflect the communities they serve. However,
in 2020, it was acceptable for a major educational institution that claims to be committed to equity,
diversity and inclusion to have a senior leadership team that was entirely white.
As Mayor, I have acted consciously to develop a diverse leadership team that reflects our
community. SUNY Brockport, indeed all of our institutions, must do the same in order to address
the systemic and institution inequities brought to light by Dr. Archie’s firing and its aftermath.
I am speaking for the school’s students, faculty, staff and indeed, all people of color in our
community when I say we are tired. Tired of having to fight the same battles. Tired of having
institutions build elaborate facades to hide from the difficult conversations and real work necessary
to truly move towards a more equitable and just society. Be assured, that while we are tired, we
will not rest until our work is done.
The attached article clearly depicts how systematic racism continues to exist under the facade of
having a chief diversity officer that fails to be empowered or have true partners within an
institution’s leadership. I hope that together we can ensure this fate does not befall CDO’s
throughout SUNY.
To that end, I ask you to collaborate and engage with me and all concerned people of conscience
to address the clear inequities so that we can begin the real work necessary to achieve our shared
goal of a just and better collegiate environment for all.
As Dr. Archie has said, “we will never be successful if this work is the responsibility of one, and not
the expectation of all.”
Sincerely,

Mayor Lovely A. Warren


City of Rochester, NY