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College at Brockport Announces Change in Diversity Office

Patti Singer

Lorraine Acker is the interim chief diversity officer at the The College at Brockport, effective Jan. 27, 2020. Provided by The College at Brockport

The College at Brockport is not commenting on what it calls a personnel decision that has led to a shakeup in its diversity office.

College President Heidi Macpherson announced Jan. 27 that Lorraine Acker will become the interim chief diversity officer, effectively immediately, replacing Cephas Archie.

Acker, who is associate vice president for student affairs, will oversee the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She was scheduled to meet the student body in her new capacity at a campus meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 27.

“Dr. Acker was selected for this important role because of her ability to cultivate a common vision and collaborative culture,” according to an email from Macpherson to the college community. “Throughout her career, she has demonstrated her commitment to the issues of inclusion, social justice, diversity, access, and equity.”

Brockport students on Jan. 25 peacefully protested after learning that Archie no longer was chief diversity officer.

People outside the Brockport community also reacted.

On her personal Facebook page Lovely Ann Warren, the Rochester mayor, wrote Jan. 24 she “heard some very disturbing news” that Archie was “fighting against institutional an structural bias and for that he has been dismissed.”

On his personal Twitter account, East High Superintendent praised Archie for his work leading a superintendents summit on diversity and said many districts consulted with him to improve hiring practices.

Both used an image We Stand with Dr. Archie and the Warren used the hashtag #weseeyou.

Archie released a statement through his attorneys. It contained in part “values and priorities we communicate must be actualized in the daily operational and structural processes we implement. Diverse, equitable, and inclusive systems benefit all people – excluding none. We must commit ourselves to continuously asking, “Who is missing from the table?”

He expressed gratitude for his supporters and said, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to face it head on, and push forward regardless.”

In her email Jan. 25, Macpherson wrote she had an “unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.” She gave two examples.

Without mentioning Archie’s name, she also wrote, “I recognize that many of you may be angry or disappointed right now, but I commit to you that every campus decision that I make has the best short- and long-term interest of the College at heart.
“While I am deeply committed to transparency, I am also legally restrained from commenting on personnel matters. However, I can say that we take any personnel action against any employee extremely seriously. This deliberately long process serves to ensure that our entire campus community has high-performing leadership committed to providing our students with the best quality education. … “

Macpherson wrote that a national search would get started for the next chief diversity officer.