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Former colleague of fired Chief Diversity Officer responds to Brockport's inquiry: 'What a peculiar call'

Charles Molineaux
Updated: February 17, 2020 11:13 PM
Created: February 17, 2020 10:57 PM

BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — An aborted investigation into The College at Brockport’s former Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie, Ed.D., injected new debate into Archie’s already controversial firing.

On Monday, a statement from the school announced it was backing away from the probe and that it should not have happened.

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"The whole thing was odd,” Sabrina Lewis-Jones, Ph.D., a former professor at Houston Community College and onetime colleague of Archie’s at HCC said about a call she received Friday asking about him. "I started thinking to myself 'What a peculiar call!'"

The College at Brockport erupted in protest last month when Archie was dismissed.

Students and teachers picketed, walked out and packed a town hall meeting in which they blasted President Heidi McPherson.

The dispute abruptly reignited with the revelation by Archie’s lawyer Andrew Burns that the school’s police chief, Daniel Vasile, had contacted Lewis-Jones on Friday and questioned her on the phone about Archie supposedly “firing” her.

In a written statement, and in a conversation with News10NBC, Lewis-Jones explained that Archie had never fired her and had never been her boss.

During their time at HCC, she said, she had worked in the college’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Archie had been in the Office of Institutional Equity. They had, she recalled, frequently collaborated on projects and had always gotten along well.

"Very good guy,” she said. “Respectful, honorable and a lot of people liked him."

On Monday afternoon, the college released a statement that said:

“The President’s Office recently received an anonymous voicemail from an individual who claimed to have information about a former employee of the College. Because of the nature of the allegations, the voicemail was shared with our chief of police for his records. While the police chief did look into this allegation, our own review revealed that since this employee no longer works for the College and the allegations pre-date their employment, the inquiry should not have occurred. The President has ordered the chief to cease this inquiry.”

“They were just trying to dig up dirt. They got caught,” Burns said, accusing the school of trying to legitimize Archie’s dismissal after the fact. “I think Dr. McPherson made a horrible mistake by removing Dr. Archie from his position,” he said. “They’ve had a lot of pressure on them and they are still seeking some sort of basis to justify what they did and I think that’s what this is all about.  By their own admission, this inquiry started the office of the president and was passed on to the chief of police. Now they’ve been caught. Now this became public.”

For her part, Lewis-Jones called Archie’s departure unfortunate. “I don’t know how or what developed at the College but that’s a big loss,” she said. “I think that’s a big loss. Because he’s a good guy.”


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