Dean Roellke is defending his decision to sign a pledge of support for Bill Ayers. The dean has posted the following comment to our post on the issue.
"Just as Barack Obama has been extraordinarily clear about his involvement with Professor Ayers, I wish to be clear about Vassar's brief association with Mr. Ayers. No one with whom I interact is supportive of Mr. Ayers' actions years ago (at the time, Barack Obama was 8 years old, I was 5 years old).
Please take the time to better understand Mr. Ayers' contributions to the field of education--it is those contributions that brought him to Vassar.
Here is a summary of Mr. Ayers' work at Vassar (excerpted from my grant report to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations who supported our urban education outreach work)...
With support from both the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Vassar College Dean of the Faculty Office, we were able to appoint William Ayers as a visiting professor of Urban Education for the 2005-06 academic year. Mr. Ayers has conducted a series of all campus events, including the Elaine Lipschutz Lecture on Multicultural Education in the Fall. For CETE alumni currently teaching in New York City, we sponsored "An Evening with Bill Ayers," a dinner and lecture designed to celebrate the accomplishments of urban teachers from Vassar, Smith, Barnard, Swarthmore and other highly selective liberal arts colleges. We held this event at Bank Street College of Education and are looking forward to planning a similar event in the 2006-07 academic year. The dinner was attended by 30 students and faculty from CETE institutions and over 150 educators participated in the lecture component of the program. Mr. Ayers is also conducting a weekly urban education reform seminar with over 40 students enrolled. For the 2006-07 academic year, we have already secured John Merrow, Peabody Award Winner and education correspondent for NEWSHOUR with Jim Lehrer to play a similar role. Though Mr. Merrow will not teach a course for us, his expertise in urban education and public policy debates will be highly valued by both our current students and our alumnae/i.
I hope this is helpful to those who may misinterpret my support for Mr. Ayers.
Professor of Education and Acting Dean of the College."