Rosanne Adderley: Colleagues rally to her defense at Tulane

Historians in the News

HNN Editor's Note: On March 27, 2007 HNN reported that the Tulane history department is divided over charges involving racism, harassment and slander. The university conducted an investigation into the charges and cleared the accused professors of wrongdoing. But tensions lingered. The three accused members of the faculty began boycotting department meetings (they were joined by a fourth). One of the professors filed a lawsuit claiming she had been defamed. The lawsuit was subsequently thrown out. The case is on appeal.

As we reported,"The origins of the imbroglio can be traced to complaints by Rosanne Adderley, the only African-American member of the department, that she was the victim of discrimination for years." After the story was published several of her colleagues protested to HNN that our story unfairly stigmatized Professor Adderley. They contacted members of our advisory board to complain that our coverage was biased. We explained that because Professor Adderley declined to be interviewed for the story it was difficult to present a balanced piece. The article featured quotes from her chief critics and none from her. We invited her supporters to provide a statement in her defense. On April 11 they posted the following comment on the discussion board attached to the article. It was signed by 35 people. The department of history numbers 21 people (excluding visiting professors), according to the Tulane website. Five, including the current chairman, signed the statement.

We, the 35 current and former members of the Tulane faculty listed below, find that this article represents Rosanne Adderley in a negative light that in no way corresponds with her professional identity at Tulane University. Rosanne Adderley has been an extremely active, positive, friendly, hard working and helpful colleague. Moreover, she is a person of utmost integrity, and we believe that all of her professional dealings are conducted in good faith as a matter of course. We assert unequivocally that this story is misleading. A grave injustice has been done here. The Rosanne Adderley that we know is not, as the article implies, a troublemaker. Indeed, she is the very opposite.

Idelber Avelar
Charles Chamberlain
Felice Batlan
James Boyden
Molly Burke
Michael Cunningham
Rachel Devlin
Raymond Diamond
Christopher Dunn
Pamela Franco
Sylvia Frey
Joy Fuqua
Kate Haulman
Ladee Hubbard
Martha Huggins
Javier Leon
Rebecca Mark
Nancy Maveety
Marilyn Miller
Clarence Mohr
Gayle Murchison
Neeti Nair
Supriya Nair
Stacy Overstreet
Tatjana Pavlovic
Larry Powell
Steven Pierce
Natalie Ring
Maureen Shea
Randy Sparks
Felipe Smith
Richard Watts
Edie Wolfe
Justin Wolfe
Lee Woodward

Read entire article at HNN

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Emily Ratner - 11/15/2007

Although I knew Rosanne Adderley from the perspective of a student and not that of a colleague, I'd like to add my name to Dr. Adderley's long list of supporters. Dr. Adderley is a compassionate, warm, and dedicated professor. She acted as chief advisor for the theses of several of my friends in both History and Latin American Studies and her students and former students speak glowingly of their experience with her. She is known throughout Tulane's campus as being very tough but also fair, and helps students prepare for careers and further higher learning opportunities both through her high expectations and her undying support.

I am deeply disappointed that a "news network" would publish such a one-sided story. Tulane's investigation of the claim clearly demonstrates that Dr. Adderley acted in good faith and even admits that one of the professors involved treats junior faculty "somewhat haughtily," suggesting that in at least one case Dr. Adderley was not alone in being treated unfairly. Furthermore, Dr. Adderley made her complaint through the appropriate channels in a professional and confidential manner and yet her character and credentials have been attacked in a very public and tawdry way. Perhaps in some academic circles such poor research and reporting is considered acceptable, but on Tulane’s campus Shenkman’s shoddy journalism simply doesn’t pass muster.