on Doug Wilder
Having been a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University faculty for 34 years, it was with great interest that I read two recent RTD articles.
The first article, on July 3, said, “VCU renews its contract with former Gov. Wilder.” Although he was under investigation for sexual harassment at the time, VCU opted to renew his contract for the 2019-2020 academic year.
As a “part-time” adjunct professor, he will be paid $150,000 for the year. He will be allowed to teach up to 24 credits, although he is not yet on the books to teach any classes this fall.
On July 11, a second article, “Wilder kissed VCU student against will, inquiry finds,” was published. Wilder apparently made several “advances” to a young woman, 66 years younger than he is. He also offered to provide “lodging” for her. After she declined all his offers, she was told that “there is no longer funding for her position at VCU” (she was working as an office assistant in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs).
To say that all of this is a source of embarrassment for VCU would probably be an understatement. What VCU should do is to rescind his contract and tell him that “there is no longer funding for his position at VCU.”
After reading Chris Gentilviso’s editorial “Wilder and VCU: Speak up or resign,” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, Wilder should be suspended from his professor’s job until a complete VCU investigation is done and made public. To my dismay, Wilder signed a new contract for $150,000 a year as a distinguished professor. With the #MeToo movement, there seems to be no reaction from women about the kissing incident without consent. By both parties offering limited comment on the matter, it casts an uneasy shadow. Is it about the man and his clout or is it about race?
I am not going to stand by and tolerate these calls for Doug Wilder to resign. I also opposed calls for Gov. Ralph Northam to resign.
How soon we forget — and those too young to remember cannot know — the importance of the election of 1989 in Virginia. That also is the same month the Berlin Wall came down.
Those of us who worked so hard to help Doug Wilder become the first African American elected governor of any state in the U.S. since Reconstruction, by a predominantly white electorate, cannot sit by and let his legacy be tarnished. No one is perfect, but these attacks on Gov. Wilder and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax are deeply disturbing, not least because they seem not to be coming from Republicans (who would greatly harm themselves by making a spectacle of themselves and Fairfax in our venerable General Assembly). Doug Wilder’s election in November 1989 did not simply make history, it changed the course of history. Barack Obama has said that without Gov. Wilder there would’ve been no President Obama.
Women should be heard, and no one is beyond accountability, but something is very rotten in Denmark, to purloin a phrase.
Justin Fairfax deserves due process and Doug Wilder also deserves the same. The young woman was not a minor at age 20, although young, and a kiss is not an assault.
Apparently, nothing beyond that occurred, indicating Gov. Wilder’s advance was not further pressed upon being rebuffed. I can’t believe we have been reduced to this level in our political discourse, and nationally as well, when rape, sexual assault, as well as race are being used to smear, harm or impair those standing in another politician’s way. Surely, my fellow citizens, especially Democrats, at all levels, we must be better than this.
Region must support
Times-Dispatch headlines do provide some interesting information:
July 11: “Va. regains No.1 ranking as best state for business.”
July 13: “MathScience Innovation Center Struggling for what’s next,”
July 14: “Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.”
If Virginia wishes to maintain its No. 1 ranking as a place to do business and hopes to prepare today’s youth for the workplace of tomorrow, how can this happen effectively without a fully staffed and funded MathScience Innovation Center?
Singer offers hope
in four-part harmony
We recently attended the Frankie Valli concert at the Altria Theater. The concert was one of the best we’ve seen. The takeaway, however, wasn’t the music, it was his message between songs of his love for America.
In poignant and well-spoken words, Valli expressed his dismay at the political atmosphere, rife with infighting rather than using that energy to help our country prosper. He spoke of the homeless veterans who desperately need our help. He also spoke of our early immigrants who came not to change America but to value and work hard for their families and in the process helped America become even stronger.
We hear endless criticism of how our country is run and feel helpless to change it. Valli, with his soft-spoken words, gave us what the politicians have not: hope. His answer? Harmony, rather than discord; love, rather than hate.
I think it’s worth a try. How about you?