By Rupert W. Nacoste
“Daddy liked his conversation the way he liked his gumbo.” So begins the story that leads up to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox being formally reprimanded by the North Carolina State University faculty.
What did that have to do with Gumbo? Drawing on his Louisiana black-Creole roots for the guiding metaphor, Making Gumbo In the University is the story of Professor Rupert W. Nacoste’s life of work on diversity, especially his two years as the ranking university administrator responsible for diversity at North Carolina State University. Rupert Nacoste's life has been all about trying to make gumbo.
A powerful example of a sincere effort to practice what you live and what you preach. Making Gumbo helps us feel the discomfort that naturally occurs when an institution pursues diversity. It places the responsibility for diversity at all levels of the university, but emphasizes the critical role of leadership in this effort. Such leadership must at minimum be unwavering in its commitment to diversity and willing to take risks for change.
Craig C. Brookins, Director
Africana Studies, NC State University
The truths that come out here show what diversity really means. Particularly interesting were the challenges that Nacoste faced while trying to change the diversity culture at a major university in the South from one of entitlement to one of engagement. The struggles that Nacoste faced leading the diversity effort at North Carolina State University put him in the middle between a conservative, old-school black community both on campus and off, and an administration that was determined to not have race issues be front page news. I know about this first hand because I was there and I was part of this story.
Stuart L. Cooper, former Provost at
North Carolina State University
Dr. Nacoste convincingly establishes an unsettling truth: conflict is not only a necessary consequence of true diversity, it is the essence of diversity. . . I am reminded of the countless times I witnessed him address a rapt audience. He is a force of nature. With his booming voice, confident stride and dramatic presence, he demands attention. Often, his message was one of elegant simplicity: that people have profound effects on one another. Our attempts to navigate these effects comprise the central narrative of humanity. In Making Gumbo, Dr. Nacoste lends his distinct and assured voice to a nation confronted anew with perplexing questions of diversity.
Brandon Buskey, NCSU Graduate,
Staff Attorney, Equal Justice Initiative
Nacoste chooses the tantalizing metaphor of a gumbo to paint a picture of the powerful and intellectually stimulating life of a research university campus alive with diversity. He understands and communicates the value of a fundamental and clearly understood mission as the roux on which this delightful dish is built. He illustrates the essential importance of each ingredient in this gumbo-human beings with their history, their prejudices, their desire to learn. He celebrates the intellectual joy that comes with conflicts of ideas.
Nacoste writes a prescription for taking learning organizations of all kinds to high levels of true productivity, through the very practical implementation of ways to capitalize on the conflict of ideas with which a truly diverse community seethes.
C. Frank Abrams, Professor emeritus, Former Senior Vice Provost
and Chief of Staff, North Carolina State University
224 pages, $18.95
Social Science: Ethnic Studies-African American Studies-General
Biography & Autobiography: Social Scientists & Psychologists
Language Arts & Disciplines: Composition & Creative Writing-Nonfiction
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 28 July, 2010.