Community members in Roxbury are opposing the appointment of Gerald Chertavian, CEO of nonprofit Year Up, as the new chairman of Roxbury Community College’s board because Chertavian is white.
In a letter sent to Gov. Deval Patrick over Memorial Day weekend, the group Friends of Roxbury Community College said it is “insulting for Governor Patrick to appoint a white person to head up the body that is the primary decision maker for the college. He is sending a message that although we are a predominantly Black institution, it will take a white person to give you the vision and leadership to take the college to the ‘promised land’ of education. That is the ‘plantation’ type mentality.”
Chertavian oversees his first meeting of the college’s board of trustees Tuesday night.
Sadiki Kambon, who heads up the Friends of Roxbury Community College and runs a nonprofit in Roxbury, said in an interview that the group’s criticism is not of Chertavian, who would make a “welcome addition” to the board of trustees. But Kambon said the governor’s decision to appoint Chertavian chairman was the wrong move and that Roxbury residents need to see a person who “looks like us” in that leadership position.
Roxbury Community College also recently announced that Valerie Roberson, who is black and currently the vice president of academic affairs at Joliet Junior College in Illinois, had been hired as president. Kambon said the Friends of Roxbury Community College are “pleased with that choice.”