ben_carson
Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Ben Carson as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has come under scrutiny among some Penn professors.

Nine professors at Penn joined hundreds of educators across the country to sign an open letter saying that Carson is “completely unqualified to promote appropriate solutions to the pressing housing and urban development needs facing our country.”

Many of the professors are members of the Urban Studies Program or Political Science Department at the University, highlighting their expertise in the issues that Carson will face if appointed.

“[Carson] is not qualified for the position and his stances are not in keeping with the goals of anti-discrimination,” said professor Camille Charles, the director of the Center for Africana Studies at Penn.

She also believes that Carson will essentially “gut everything” in his department if he is confirmed to be the secretary of Housing and Urban Development by supporting to “reverse policies intended to facilitate homeownership for working class and middle class households,” she said.

Assistant professor in the School of Design Francesca Ammon also signed the open letter. She noted that Carson has no experience that is relevant to the mission of the department.

“He has never run a federal agency, and housing is an extremely complex issue,” Ammon said.

The professors interviewed noted that they did not discuss with each other before signing the letter. Each of them chose to sign because of their personal reservations towards what Carson would do as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Many politicians in Washington were surprised by Trump’s nomination of Carson considering his minimal experience in the affairs of the department. Carson practiced medicine for 29 years as a neurosurgeon and was in the 2016 race for the Republican nomination for president. Trump said he chose Ben Carson to lead the department because he is “passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”

Three professors from Temple University also signed the open letter, along with the multiple professors from Penn. The letter was sent to Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who are both leading members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Carson’s nomination was approved unanimously by this committee on Jan. 24. He is still waiting for the Senate floor to put this nomination for a complete vote, and many are anxious for the outcome.

“Carson will turn back policies that are known to work,” Charles said.

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