"They deserve better"
Outraged by the Board’s treatment of Oscar winner and PCC alumnus Dustin Lance Black, a long-time dean and professor at UCLA sent a scathing letter to Board President Anthony Fellow expressing his anger and disbelief.
“Shame on you for turning the victim of an illegal and immoral transgression into its perpetrator,” Dean Emeritus and Professor at UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television Robert Rosen wrote.
Black, who is also an alumnus from UCLA, first was invited to be the spring commencement speaker at PCC, but said he was later disinvited by the Board.
The college disinvited Black citing intimate photographs of Black with a former boyfriend which surfaced on the internet in 2009.
Black used the power of the word as his weapon to strike back at the Board by releasing an open letter addressed to PCC students. The Courier ran the letter on Thursday and it garnered global attention in the media.
Rosen explains why he felt he had to write the letter to the Board President.
“I was compelled to write the letter to Fellow because I was outraged and embarrassed for PCC, what a black eye this is for that school,” Rosen said in an interview.
“We are very proud of Dustin being one of our graduates and I don’t understand why PCC’s Board is not proud of Dustin’s association with PCC,” he said.
Rosen makes it clear that he is speaking for himself not UCLA. Rosen was a dean and chair for twenty years and a faculty member for 35 years at UCLA and has worked extensively with Black.
“Dustin reflects the wealth of talent we hope to continue to attract from California’s fine community colleges and Dustin represents that,” Rosen said.
The college released a statement on Friday which said that they will issue an official response on Monday to the commencement speaker controversy.
“Pasadena City College is busy today assembling facts on the chain of events connected with the choice by the College of a commencement speaker. The College will provide a statement on Monday of what it has learned. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this subject until this review has been conducted. Thank you,” the statement read.
The Courier obtained Rosen’s letter to Fellow and can be read in full below.
Dear Mr. Fellow:
Shame on you!
Shame on you for turning the victim of an illegal and immoral transgression into its perpetrator. Shame on you for undermining the reputation of Pasadena City College as a place for free and open discourse. Shame on you for embarrassing your faculty, students and staff and all those at your school who stand for free speech, cultural diversity and the importance of social engagement. They deserve better.
Based on my experience of thirty-five years as Professor, Department Chair or Dean at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television I fully concur in the overwhelming admiration of our School for Dustin Lance Black’s artistry, moral integrity and principled social advocacy. Professionally, personally and as an engaged citizen he represents the best of what we hope for in our program and, I might add, he also reflects the wealth of talent we hope to continue to attract from California’s fine community colleges.
Through your insensitivity you have damaged the reputation of your school, misrepresented your students and faculty, and betrayed the trust of the people of Pasadena. Moral cowardice, political expediency and shoddy reasoning are not the hallmarks of any leader, let alone the leader of an institution of higher learning, and least of all the leader of an institution committed to serving the public.
Dean Emeritus and Professor, of Film, TV and Digital Media
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television