STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors are among the most coveted college graduates due to the explosion of technology in the last two decades. So it seems hard to believe that a professor of Computer Science would be fighting for her job, especially at an HBCU.

But that is the case at Fort Valley State University a historically Black college in Georgia. Dr. Cheryl A. Swanier has been told that her position has been eliminated after eight years, likely because the school is trying to save money.

“She was very helpful. She gave us a lot of real-world advice,” Jasmine Bowers, a former FVSU student who is now earning a doctorate at the University of Florida, told Diverseededucation.com “She was not a very easy teacher. She required a lot from us as students but that helped us in the long run.”

The school’s chancellor, Hank M. Huckaby, who also oversees the Board of Regents of The University System Of Gerogia, has been petitioned by students and alumni to find a way to keep Swanier at the school.

A university attorney says that all the normal procedures were followed in not renewing Swanier’s contract at the school and that she was given sufficient notice that her tenured position would end.

Swanier, who has two doctoral degrees from Auburn, currently out on Family and Medical leave says that in recent years that foreign-born faculty has been hired and promoted over American-born faculty. Swanier is the only African-American out of four professors in her department.

But in a story posted on diverseeducation.com, Swanier admits she has had personal and professional differences with her colleagues. They cite a FSVU source that says that in addition, Swanier’s department graduated less than five students each year.

“This is a strategic effort to get rid of me because of intimidation and jealousy,” Swanier said in an interview.

The students and alumni supporting her say that her rigorous coursework prepared them for graduate work.

(Photo: Fort Valley State University)

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