NEW YORK, OCT. 28 -- City College professor Leonard Jeffries Jr., under fire for his remarks about Jews and whites at a state conference three months ago, today was in effect put on one-year probation as chairman of the black studies department, a post he has held for 19 years.

After meeting nearly four hours in closed session, 15 of the school's 17-member board of trustees voted to give Jeffries only a one-year extension rather than the standard three years, saying they were "deeply disturbed by the irresponsible and inflammatory statements" Jeffries made last summer. His colleagues in the black studies department had reelected him in May to a three-year term as chairman, but his appointment was subject to the board's approval.

A tenured professor who has served as a New York state consultant on multicultural curriculum, Jeffries was widely criticized for remarks in a July speech that "rich Jews" promoted the slave trade and that the Mafia and Jews in Hollywood have conspired to destroy black people.

Speaking about Afrocentric education to a predominantly black audience at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, Jeffries said, "You can't trust the white boy. These white folks, even good ones, you can't trust." Such comments, first published in the New York Post, ignited the controversy.

James Murphy, the chairman of the board of trustees, said, "We wanted to take a middle road, to give {City College President Bernard W. Harleston} some running room to try to work through some of the tensions that have developed at City College." The vote was 10 to 4 with one abstention.

Harleston said the trustees will have to reconsider the status of Jeffries's chairmanship next summer. "We don't know what his fate will be. . . . He could conceivably be reelected."

That did not please all the trustees. Trustee Edith Everett said, "The same problem will be revisited next June. . . . My own feeling is one doesn't play ball with racism." She would not say how she voted.

C. Vernon Mason, the activist attorney representing Jeffries, said before the vote he would challenge in court any "unconstitutional" moves to remove Jeffries from his chairmanship or limit his term.

Mason cited the case of Michael Levin, a City College professor also generating controversy with racially charged views who last month won a legal battle against the university. A U.S. court ruled the university cannot legally investigate or discipline Levin, who actively promotes the theory that blacks are inherently less intelligent than whites.

"I think the {Jeffries} decision was one of cowardice. . . . I suspect that the board wanted to remove him but they realized they were on very shaky constitutional grounds," said Donald H. Smith, chairman of the Education Department at Baruch College, another school in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Smith is chairman of the CUNY African-American Network, an organization of 900 faculty, staff and administrators.

Jeffries, whose request to address the board was denied, told about 300 supporters gathered outside before the vote, "It has never been about one man. They created that bugaboo. They created that to hide the struggle over the curriculum." Jeffries then left five books on Afro-American studies outside the building and departed as the trustees continued their debate.

Jeffries was in Washington Saturday night to be honored by Return to the Source, a local African-centered educational research organization. He told an all-black audience then that accusations that he is antisemitic or anti-white are "insanity to scare people" and to undermine his position as a proponent of African-centered education.

Jeffries has long been a fixture at the Harlem-based City College of New York. The college's faculty senate voted last month to recommend that no action be taken against him. But the final word rested with the CUNY board.

In recent weeks, pressure on CUNY administrators and trustees intensified, with state politicians ranging from Gov. Mario M. Cuomo (D) to Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R) calling on the university to discipline Jeffries. Jewish groups have pressed for removal of Jeffries as chairman but stopped short of calling for his dismissal as a CUNY professor, citing respect for academic freedom.

Staff writer Lynne Duke in Washington contributed to this report.