After an internal audit found no issues with the finances of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research (CAR), officials are confident that the center is on track to successfully transition to its new direction. The restructuring of CAR includes reducing its staff size and shifting towards a model where fellows conduct individual projects while contributing to a digital publication called The Emancipator.
The restructuring was initiated by CAR’s founding director, Ibram X. Kendi, to ensure the center’s long-term viability. The layoffs prompted a closer examination of the center’s management and grant practices. However, the audit confirmed that CAR’s financial management was appropriate, with expenditures consistently charged to the correct grant and gift accounts.
The audit covered CAR’s finances from its establishment in June 2020 to September 2023. Gary Nicksa, BU’s chief financial officer, emphasized that the restructuring was not a result of financial mismanagement. Kendi expressed relief that the financial inquiry is behind them, stating that the goal was to create a financially sustainable structure to support CAR’s mission.
BU is now focusing on reviewing the grants received by CAR to ensure compliance with reporting processes. The review will include examining progress reports and deliverables. To support an exploration into CAR’s operating climate and culture, BU has enlisted the services of global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry.
Maureen O’Rourke, BU’s associate provost for faculty affairs, explained that Korn Ferry will analyze the management structure and organizational culture of CAR in order to recommend a way forward. Input from faculty and staff who have been involved with CAR will be crucial in identifying potential areas of improvement.
Kendi was hired in 2020 to open CAR in response to the increased interest in antiracism following the murder of George Floyd. CAR’s funding primarily came from donor gifts rather than institutional grants, but contributions declined significantly after the initial surge of support. Restructuring became necessary to ensure CAR’s long-term impact and financial sustainability.
BU remains committed to CAR’s mission and is actively supporting the center’s transition to a fellowship model centered around The Emancipator and a program for antiracist intellectuals and creators. Provost Ken Lutchen expressed support for Kendi’s vision of antiracist scholarship and teaching, stating that the decision to evolve CAR into a fellowship model aligns with that vision.
As the inquiry into CAR continues, BU officials will collaborate with Kendi to further develop the fellowship model.