Outlaw will leave Haverford after 20 years
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Joseph Badtke-Berkow

Haverford philosophy professor Lucius Outlaw will leave the college after the ’00-’01 school year to become the director of African-American studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Outlaw has taught at Haverford for 20 years and is one of the foremost race theorists in the United States, as well as a beloved and highly accessible professor. Molefi Kete Asante, senior professor of African-American studies at Temple University, told the Vanderbilt News Service that the University had “captured one of the most significant African-American scholars of this era.”

Before moving to Nashville, Outlaw is planning to teach his upper-level philosophy classes as a part-time faculty member next year in order to give students one last chance to work with him at higher levels, and to allow his youngest son to graduate from high school in Pennsylvania.

Outlaw has said there is no single reason for his decision to leave. After both his sons are out of the house, he and his wife are looking forward to returning to the city where he they both worked and lived alter graduate school.

He also stressed that Vanderbilt has offered him the opportunity to become an administrator and fill an important and official role both in and out of classroom. In his capacity as director of African-American studies, Outlaw joins a determined effort by Vanderbilt to increase diversity among the student body and the faculty, and to embrace a multitude of different social and academic perspectives in a very active way. “I am taking advantage of some opportunities that are not otherwise available to me here,” he said. “It gives me as well as my family an opportunity to move into a new phase of our life.”

Outlaw has made it clear that he wishes the very best for Haverford, which has given him much in terms of his career and his personal life. He expressed frustration, however, over the difference between his own vision of what the academic and social development of the college should be and the direction in which he feels it is currently heading, specifically, in terms of diversity. “My concerns are in one place, and the management and direction of the institution is in another,” said Outlaw. “The institution is doing well, apparently, and I need to move on.”

Outlaw says that he has no right to tell Haverford what it should or should not do now that he is leaving, but his concern over the current lack of diversity and the lack of initiative to work towards real solutions to that problem is obvious.

One recent example of his frustration comes on the heels of the college’s announcement that it will increase the tuition costs of attending Haverford by over $1000 next school year.

Outlaw, however, has long argued that the practice of continually raising the price of admission to cover the costs of financial aid programs and raising faculty salaries is not a financially sustainable approach addressing the colleges many problems. He claims that if the price keeps on raising, then more students will need to pay full-price in order to keep professors and provide for less wealthy families who will need more help to send their kids to the college.

“You cannot keep raising the fees, because you are going to price yourself out of the market because that market is not infinitely elastic nor large.” Outlaw said. “[I]f you start pricing yourself out of that market …you are going to end up only being able to cater yourself to people who can pay or we are going to need a lot more money for financial aid and it is not going to be just for students of color.”

Outlaw says that it is dangerous and specious to think that all students of color are poor and in need. If Haverford were more affordable it would potentially be open to more students of color as well as thousands of white students who are not able to attend the college because of financial


He believes that given the proper motivation and institutional direction, Haverford could manage to drastically reduce its tuition and thereby open up its resources and academic and social vision to a larger population of intelligent and dedicated young men and women who have not traditionally had access to the college.

“What would you think of a place that presented itself to the country as involved in a major fundraising effort because given its convictions growing out of a Quaker past, egalitarianism etc., it wanted to position itself in the United Sates of America as being able to provide a particular kind of education where the cost was really not a barrier to entry,” he asked.

Outlaw’s decision to leave was announced abruptly last January, and his department and the college are still reeling. “It’s a huge loss, and [sic] incredible loss,” said HC Philosophy Department chair Danielle Macbeth. “Lucius brings a wonderful perspective to philosophy,” she said. “[He is] someone who takes philosophy seriously and as something caught up in our daily lives.”

Macbeth says that the department will apply for a replacement position but there is no guarantee that someone will be hired anytime soon. Many departments are waiting to fill vacancies, and committees must be formed to determine what positions need to be filled before others and then go through the lengthy process of identifying viable candidates.

Macbeth also said that it is still uncertain that a replacement professor will necessarily take on the same role that Outlaw has during his time here as an expert in African-American philosophy and race theory, the fields in which he has been most active and the ones on which he has left an indelible mark.

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