To: Missouri State University
First Black VP being mistreated at MSU, plus...
Where is the support for “Diversity and Inclusion” at MSU?
Why is this important?
As a concerned citizen of Springfield, MO and a member of the black community, I am writing to call attention to the gross and racist treatment being hurled at Dr. Ken Coopwood, the first black VP and senior expert on diversity hired in the history of Missouri State University and our city of Springfield. Other VPs on campus, who happen to be white, earn more in salary and have better funded divisions. I have been in Springfield for over 5 years, and I met Dr. Coopwood 2 years ago at a community event sponsored by the Baha'i Faith organization. I became familiar with his work and later attended several visits to his division suite on campus over several months. Having more insight into Dr. Coopwood’s work and his ability to serve a historically hostile community, I can share news of how he has endured over recent years.
I know that of late, Dr. Coopwood’s division was “repurposed” for the sake of doing higher level activity, e.g. climate study, and diversity conference, but left internal units without leadership for the change these efforts should provoke. This repurposing was stated in the Springfield “News Leader” and it caused several diversity-related units to be left without the benefit of his expertise and leadership. However, I’ve learned through students and others in the community that, in fact, staff within Dr. Coopwood’s division have been despicable and hostile towards him, even created circumstances against him which made his leadership appear to be both faulty and unethical in an effort to gain favor with senior administration. I saw for myself, when asking about his division's budget and how his staff were being utilized, that his effort to develop his staff and expand the work of his division was not being supported in any way that proved the university was serious about diversity.
In fact, it appears that Dr. Coopwood’s unit and his resources have been taken away to show favor to others at MSU who were known by the president before him. We need to find out the truth. I have spoken directly to Dr. Coopwood but he needs to protect his family and therefore can not respond in depth to my questions. Nonetheless, I am starting this petition to demand that the treatment afforded to Dr. Coopwood be revealed publicly and that he be allowed to use his talent to lead the community to better race relations and equitable distribution of resources. I have the support of MSU alums as well as community people who have worked directly with Dr. Coopwood. I will ask the MSU board to investigate Dr. Coopwood’s experience since arriving in Springfield and, if need be, move this petition forward to the attention of the Governor. We can not stand by and watch a man who brought his family to our community be racially profiled as incompetent, not-valued or of no consequence in transforming our community to a better place.
If any of you have interacted with Dr. Coopwood in any way, then you would know what I mean. Please join me in holding the university accountable for its treatment of the first and only black executive since 1905.