What Lorgia García Peña’s Tenure Denial Means for Other Latina Scholars
Her rejection continues a long tradition in academia of ignoring the brilliance of Afro Latinx scholars and educators
When the news broke that Dr. Lorgia García Peña, Roy G. Clouse associate professor of romance languages and literatures and of history and literature at Harvard University, was denied tenure, scholars and students rallied in an outpouring of support. One such letter of support, which details her many accomplishments, has more than 4,400 signatures from fellow faculty members, undergraduate, and graduate students.
Dr. García Peña’s teaching is highly regarded; her book, The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nations, and Archives of Contradictions (Duke University Press, 2016) won the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, and she is the recipient of grants and fellowships from a number of prestigious foundations, such as the Ford Foundation.
We know of multiple cases of tenure denial to nonwhite scholars, yet the reasons for the denial are not transparent and, in the case of Harvard, there is no uniform process to evaluate professors for tenure and promotion.
Yet for many of us Latinx, Black, and other scholars of color, the news, although outrageous, was unsurprising. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other faculty of color are underrepresented in academia. Black women represent 4% of assistant (untenured) professors, Latina professors 3%, and American Indian/Alaska Natives less than 1%.
We know of multiple cases of tenure denial to nonwhite scholars. There is also the case of Amiee Bahng, who was denied tenure at Dartmouth College in 2016, and Albert Laguna who was denied tenure at Yale in 2019. There are many more cases of Black, Latinx, and other POC faculty that never make it into the public eye. Moreover, there is no database that tracks this information; the reasons for the denial are not transparent and, in the case of Harvard, there is no uniform process to evaluate professors for tenure and promotion. What usually follows is…