Colleges in Western North Carolina Struggle to Recruit Blacks. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

ASHEVILLE, N.C.

The lowest enrollment of Blacks in five years at the University of North Carolina at Asheville has forced changes in how the school recruits minorities. Chancellor James Mullen issued the demand after just 10 Blacks enrolled with the 438 freshmen who started at the college this fall.

Appalachian State and Western Carolina universities also struggle to attract Black students to western North Carolina, a region with a mostly White population.

Just 6 percent of the student body at Appalachian State is Black, though the school is trying to increase that number to 10 percent.

The faculties at the schools also lack diversity--just 14 of UNC-Asheville's 160-member faculty are Black, seven out of 309 Western Carolina faculty members are Black, and ASU's 914-member staff includes 14 Blacks.

"We realize we've got to do something to turn this around," says Dr. Dwight Mullen, who was appointed to the newly created position of vice chancellor of minority affairs at UNC-Ashcville. A student recruitment and retention plan will be unveiled later this year, he says, and a revision to the core curriculum is expected, with a greater emphasis being placed on diversity.

Western Carolina and ASU have also responded with special mentoring problems and are trying to improve the social life and community life for Black students.

A contingent of Western Carolina staff began this year setting up admission offices in hotel lobbies located in largely minority areas as part of its own recruitment fair.

"Diversity adds flavor to the university," says admissions director Dr. …