After layoff uproar at Point Park, faculty voice concerns about campus diversity and stability

In the midst of teaching during the pandemic, a Point Park University professor was not too surprised when she received an email informing her she would no longer be employed after the spring semester. 

Kendra Ross, a 45-year-old Black woman from Pittsburgh, used to work in the music industry and she knew what it was like to be in a cutthroat environment. So much so that she joked with former coworkers at Universal that she packed a box by the door just in case. Still, Ross felt optimistic about teaching at Point Park when she first started. 

She was approached by other faculty to teach in the business program in 2018 and received her doctoral degree at the university two years later. After teaching as an adjunct faculty member, Ross was placed on tenure track in 2019. Then, in February 2021, 17 faculty members, many of whom were from marginalized backgrounds, were among those told that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed for the fall.

Tuition isn’t free, and neither is emotional labor — A conversation with Pitt’s departing Black Action Society president.

Meet Morgan Ottley as she unpacks the lessons and challenges of remotely completing her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh following 2020’s summer of racial reckoning and protests. Morgan discusses the emotional, often invisible labor left to students when universities fall short of solidarity and the future of racial justice and accountability on college campuses. For more insights on the effects of the racial justice movement on higher ed from students, faculty, staff and administrations of Pittsburgh-area universities, check out the accompanying stories to this podcast by PublicSource higher education reporter Naomi Harris. What difference has a year made? Explore the project about calls for racial justice on campuses.

Historic photo of Bethel AME Church, a large, Romanesque-style cathedral, amid demolition. A crane hovers over the building, and a few construction workers stand in front.

Pittsburgh’s oldest Black church was demolished as ‘blight’ in the 1950s Lower Hill. Today, members seek justice.

As conversations heat up over development plans for the Lower Hill District, one voice is drawing religious history into the spotlight. Bethel AME Church, founded in 1808, was once a thriving congregation and center of learning and social activism. As part of the Lower Hill redevelopment project of the 1950s, the City of Pittsburgh seized the church by eminent domain and demolished it, despite eminent domain laws excluding churches from their reach. 

Photo of a high school senior.

As the pandemic upends normal college visits, high school seniors seek a different view of campus

The deadly virus reduced national college enrollment, particularly for students of color. The percentage of high school graduates who went to college immediately after high school fell by more than a fifth last fall. Colleges and universities have made attempts to adapt recruiting efforts to avoid a similar or more severe drop from this batch of high school seniors, but it is unclear how students will respond, even amid vaccine distribution.