The Faculty Senate at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington last week voted to censure campus chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, 51 to 20, following months of tension. The censure motion says Sartarelli “initially refused to support a global social movement supporting the liberty and human rights of Black people,” and he demonstrates little leadership and a “lack of empathy” regarding racial justice, diversity and inclusion. Many professors fault Sartarelli for not firing the late Mike Adams, a controversial professor of criminal justice, outright, although Sartarelli has said settling with Adams to get him to resign was “less damaging” to the university financially. Sartarelli also reportedly said this year that affirming that Black lives matter would “be hard for me to do … because I believe all lives matter.” Banners and signs must now all be approved by the university, which some see as a response to Black Lives Matter movement activity on campus.
Sartarelli told WHQR that “my focus is centered on our students and advancing our mission, vision and values in partnership with all faculty and staff. Establishing a campus commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a continual process. How we learn from and live with our history matters. I understand the urgency required and hope all of us (Chancellor, administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community) can build a better Seahawk future together.” Sartarelli said he’s already shared an advance copy of a chancellor’s report on diversity, equity and inclusion with the Senate and looks forward “to leading UNCW as we continue to pursue this important work in the new year.”