Pomona College has decided to follow through with its hiring of Dr. Alice Goffman into the College as a visiting professor of sociology, after students, alumni, and “allies” of the Sociology Department demanded that the College rescind its offer to Goffman in an open letter issued last Friday.
Goffman—who was chosen over two Black candidates—has accepted the offer from Pomona, but the authors of the demand letter called for “the termination of her [Goffman’s] contract…[i]n the case that she has accepted the offer.”
However, according to an email statement sent to the Independent, a spokesman of Pomona College revealed that the College does not intend to terminate Goffman’s contract, and looks forward to welcoming Goffman in the coming academic year:
“We are pleased that this [hiring] process resulted in an offer and an acceptance, and we look forward to her joining our vibrant academic community in the fall as a visiting professor.”
The letter’s authors criticized “the flawed process of hiring Goffman,” and called for a student committee that would be “at the forefront of all current and future hiring decisions.” However, in the same email statement to the Independent, the College’s spokesman expressed confidence in the College’s current hiring process:
“We follow a rigorous process when hiring faculty. We are pleased that this process resulted in an offer and an acceptance.”
Although the letter complains that Goffman is “racist, sensationalist, and unethical,” and criticizes the College for hiring Goffman—a White female—over “the two other candidates for this position [who] were highly qualified Black women,” Pomona’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Audrey Bilger, defended the College’s hiring process as rigorous and diversity-minded, as the process “includes a range of activities, from a public presentation to faculty and students to meeting with our faculty diversity officer.”
Goffman is a well-known sociologist who attended the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University for her undergraduate studies and doctorate program respectively, and her book On the Run has received positive critical acclaim from leading sociologists such as William Julius Wilson. On the Run is also well-known in non-academic circles, making the New York Times’ “100 notable books of 2014” list.
Goffman also received the “2011 Dissertation Award” by the American Sociological Association for “the best Ph.D dissertation for a calendar year.”