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To the Editor:
I read with great interest the recent Haitian Times story about my resignation as founding director of the CUNY Haitian Studies Institute. Since the foundation of the Institute, The Haitian Times has consistently covered its activities positively and in a way that stresses its importance to both CUNY and the Haitian community. In this instance, however, I am chagrined that some aspects of [the] article are rather inaccurate or incomplete.
Allow me then to set the record straight.
First, there is no mystery about the reasons for my resignation. There is certainly no connection either, as the article seems to insinuate, between my departure and an earlier, and rather minor, public misunderstanding between me and a prominent member of the community. My reasons for leaving my post, as stated in my letter to the president and provost of Brooklyn College, are straightforward and simple: the desire to devote more time to my family and the need to address a number of long-neglected research and writing projects.
Secondly, contrary to what is misleadingly suggested,* I did not leave my post before the end of my term. I was appointed director of the Institute for three years, that is, from August 2016 to December 2019. Given that I submitted my resignation letter on June 9, 2020, I remained at my post almost a year longer than agreed to in my contract.
As you know, the Institute is an ongoing project, and our concern is to have it develop as a center of excellence in public programming, teaching and research about Haiti and about the Haitian meta-diaspora in New York, the United States and beyond, as well as an institutional reference that would be the pride of both CUNY and the Haitian community. This is an agenda much bigger than an individual and certainly not one that can be fulfilled in three years.
As founding director of the Haitian Studies Institute, I did my share to build up the institution and guide it in the fulfillment of its mission. I will continue to do my best to help it grow as a teacher and a researcher. The next captain of the ship may be assured that he or she will have in yours truly a dutiful and reliable sailor, for after all it is the mission that counts over all.
Finally, I wish to thank The Haitian Times once again for its coverage of the Institute during my tenure and hope that the paper will continue to write about the Haitian Studies Institute’s activities and report its achievements to the community.
CUNY Brooklyn College Professor of Sociology
Jean Eddy Saint Paul, Ph.D.
*The original article does not reference the dates of the director’s term.