Grant reappointment to Dr. Christopher Basaldu´OU Native Studies Program

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We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff of the University of Oklahoma, and other concerned community members, respectfully petition the Oklahoma Board of Regents, OU President David Boren, Kelly Damphouse Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Kyle Harper Senior VP and Provost of the Norman Campus  plus the Director of the Native American Studies Program Amanda Cobb-Greetham to reconsider approval for Tenure Track candidate professor Dr. R. Christopher Basaldu´ reappointment to his contract which will carry the potential to continue in the tenure track process at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Basaldu´ is a bilingual, bicultural scholar and has served as an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at University of Oklahoma since 2013.  

We were disappointed to hear that Dr. Basaldu´ was denied reappointment after his 3rd year at the University. Dr. Basaldu´ has contributed in numerous ways to the Native Studies program and curriculum at OU since he has been teaching at the Norman campus from our perspective. In terms of research, teaching, and community service Dr. Basaldu´s scholarship regarding the effects of colonialism and historical trauma and the after effects of historical trauma on contemporary and historical Indigenous societies and communities is consummate. In addition, Dr. Basaldu´s knowledge and expertise in Native Religion, Spirituality plus LGBTQ studies is unique in contemporary Native Studies academia.

Dr. Basaldu´ received his B.A. degree from Harvard in the study of Religion. His M.A. degree was in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona (UA).  He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Socio-cultural Anthropology from UA. Dr.  Basaldu´ was mentored by Tom Holm, Ph.D. at UA. Tom Holm studied under 2 renowned contributors to the field of Native Studies - Bob Thomas (The Peoplehood Model) and Vine Deloria Jr.  Currently Dr. Basaldu´ is the only Native Studies faculty that teaches Vine Deloria Jr. philosophies in OU’s Native Studies curriculum. Vine Deloria Jr.’s influence was prolific in the advancement of Native American Studies in incalculable ways. Thus, the exposure to Dr. Basaldu´s rich academic lineage is extremely rare.

Dr. Basaldu´ is the author of the single authored book manuscript "With A Good Thought: Family, Relationships and Stories in the Life of a Native American Church Roadman” (academic press– to be released Spring 2018). Despite authoring a book, he was still denied reappointment. In academia, the denial of reappointment in a tenure track position means that the professor must leave their job, and may not find employment at other universities. In many cases the professor is subsequently blacklisted by other universities. 

 Dr. Basaldu´ encourages the academic performance of his students and motivates students to expand their research, critical thinking and writing skills. Dr. Basaldu´ is also dedicated to his students. He encourages them to work expanding their academic worldview of Native American studies and the cultural impact of ongoing colonialism. He serves as an inspiration to many students and other faculty. He has guided many of us into realms involving social justice for marginalized communities, law, and philosophy. He is the best qualified professor to teach courses focused on LGBTQ and Native American experiences and is currently working on a second book – “LGBTQ Identity through Indigenous Perspectives”.

 Dr. Basaldu´ is also an OU Faculty Ally. OU Faculty Allies make a significant impact by becoming allies to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer campus communities. Allies create inclusive classrooms in which students feel safe to learn free from bias, homo-negativity, and trans-negativity. Thus, in a general sense, an "Ally" is a person who works to end oppression as an advocate for the oppressed population. Dr. Basaldu´ is also a loyal friend and helpful team mate to his contemporaries in the academy. 

Homophobia, gender bias and prejudice, if existing, regresses OU back to the post war era of the 1960’s in which only white men of the middle class had opportunities that were typically denied to professors of different gender, color and sexual orientation. These sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious biases keep talented scholastically qualified colleagues out of academia altogether.

 The renewal contract denial of Dr. Basaldu´ could be indicative that OU is not truly committed to its claims of valuing diversity. We pray that this is not the case and we wish to present this opportunity through this online petition to any students, faculty, mentors, friends, and / or concerned academicians to sign this petition and state in your own words the influence Dr. Basaldu’ has had in your own life and academic experience. We also open this platform for anyone who has suffered race, gender or social bias and the global importance of diversity in the academy. If there is any hint of bias in the negative decision and contract renewal for Dr. Basaldu´ this hurts us all.

Since we were not a part of the review process we can only speculate on the premises for Dr. Basaldu´s denial for reappointment. However, with the contributions he has made in our own academic scholarship we humbly and dutifully implore for his reappointment.