An Update from President Ryan to the CIA Community

    October 29, 2020

    On this day, 51 years ago, the Supreme Court ordered an immediate end to all segregation in schools. In recognition of this important event in American history, the progress that has been made since, and the challenges still facing our nation, we thought today would be an appropriate time to provide an update on the activities we are undertaking at the CIA to ensure we are fully living our core value of respect for diversity.

    Student Learning

    A series of virtual gatherings over the course of the summer helped the CIA to identify initial opportunities to enhance our curriculum, ensuring our students have the opportunity to explore racial history and address areas of injustice, and to more fully celebrate African and African-American cooking traditions and culture.

    To this end, we introduced two new courses into our curriculum this fall:

    • African-American Chefs and Southern Foodways―Taught by alumnus Kevin Mitchell (AOS ’91, and BPS ’96), this course explores Southern food, its origins, and its influences. The course examines the heritage and stories of the enslaved and freed cooks of Charleston, who―through their skill―created a new, authentic cuisine which continues to evolve today. Through the course, students study the intersection of this cuisine in the context of culture, traditions, and history with a special examination of race relations, gender roles, and their travel from Africa to the New World.
    • Anti-Black Racism: Strengthening Our Voices for Change—Taught by Associate Professor Stephanie Murphy and Adjunct Instructor Danny Malavé, the course introduces the social construct of race, and the implications of historical and structure racism, and racism within higher education and the culinary industry.

    Separately, in the annual Constitution Day address on September 17 to all CIA campuses, Dr. Robert Johnson, professor of liberal arts, delivered a lecture on The Constitution and Structural Racism, which can be viewed here.

    Expanding Diverse Voices

    The CIA’s Diversity Advisory Committee, which is made up of prominent alumni and food and hospitality industry leaders, is helping to bolster our efforts to increase diversity amongst members of our faculty, staff, and administration. We are grateful for their support and in addition to Kevin Mitchell joining us as an adjunct culinary instructor for the new course mentioned above, we are pleased to welcome Jesse Jackson ’13 as a lecturing instructor in Baking and Pastry Arts and Roshara Sanders ’14 as lecturing instructor in Culinary Arts. We will have additional faculty announcements soon, and we will continue to work toward a more diverse and inclusive community in our ongoing hiring practices.

    We are also pleased that renowned American culinary historian and African cuisine expert, Jessica B. Harris, PhD, has graciously agreed to chair our African Cuisines Advisory Committee. Dr. Harris is a professor, journalist, and author of 12 cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora, and a longtime friend of the CIA. She will be helping us to develop an African Cuisines Advisory Committee with prominent culinary experts, and CIA faculty who have expertise in this area. Pending state approval, we plan to offer the African Cuisine Concentration beginning in Fall 2021. Prior to that, the CIA will launch a 15-week special topics course in this area in Spring 2021. We’ll be sharing more details on that later this semester.

    Campus Life

    The college’s Diversity Council has made significant strides in formulating recommendations which will support the Institute in ensuring our value of respect for diversity is a focus outside the classroom as well and help us to solidify an increasingly culturally-conscious campus environment. The Diversity Council has developed a thoughtful and comprehensive framework and have begun meeting with representatives from the President’s Cabinet to move these initiatives forward. There will be ample opportunities for engagement of CIA stakeholders (students, faculty, and staff) in this process.

    As we move forward these efforts and others, the CIA is dedicating its November 30 Seminar Day to focus on these initiatives. A series of programs focused on Africa and African-American topics will be explored by the campus community, and the day will feature a talk by our Dr. Harris. Dr. Harris’ lecture will underscore the importance of the CIA recognizing, valorizing, and celebrating the foods and cuisines of the African continent and African Diaspora as we move toward presenting it alongside our academic programs that focus on other major cuisines from around the globe. Topping the day will be a special dedication and naming ceremony of CIA facilities in honor of culinary pioneers of unrecognized and under-represented backgrounds.

    November 30 will be a special day at the CIA, and we hope you will set time aside to participate as we contemplate, explore, and learn more about this important core value.

    President Dr. Tim Ryan ’77

    President Dr. Tim Ryan ’77