No one would accuse the Afro American Studies Department's faculty search committee of being a resounding success. In the 18 months since it started doing business, the four-member committee has never been able to succeed in getting any tenured Afro professors hired, although it twice came close.
So it was no tremendous surprise when, after the search committee's second prospective appointment fell through, Dean Rosovsky dissolved the committee this week. In its place, he set up a dual mechanism to find Afro faculty--writing letters to ten department chairmen asking them to look for possible joint appointees in their fields and Afro, and asking Ewart Guinier '33, chairman of the Afro Department, to suggest scholars who might fill posts in Afro alone.
The issue of joint appointments is the crucial one. Guinier strongly opposes them, saying that joint appointees will probably not be competent in Afro and that Rosovsky's insistence on joint appointments made the committee's work impossible.
But Rosovsky says he tried to persuade the committee's two near appointments to accept appointments in Afro alone and that they both refused. He says that because Afro-American Studies is a new and interdisciplinary field, it would have a hard time attracting people trained in the traditional disciplines if it could not offer joint posts.
Rosovsky's moves this week will, at any rate, probably end up loosening Guinier's vice-like grip on his department, and will almost certainly result in more joint appointments than appointments in Afro alone. Guinier is rapidly nearing retirement age, and his brief, stormy period of prominence and influence here appears to be drawing to a close.