Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Alumni Request outside Review of Diversity at Arkansas. (Noteworthy News)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Alumni Request outside Review of Diversity at Arkansas. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

LITTLE ROCK, ARK.

The University of Arkansas' Black Alumni Society has proposed that Chancellor John White hire an off-campus firm to determine whether Blacks are represented fairly at the university.

The group says the review it proposes would assess how effective the university is in recruiting minorities as athletes, students and faculty. It made the request soon after basketball coach Nolan Richardson had the last six years of his contract bought out.

"We would like to see what an independent assessment would bring," says Gerald Jordan, president of the Black Alumni Society. "I would just like to see somebody from the outside who has absolutely nothing to do with this take a look."

Arkansas' total enrollment for fall 2001 was 15,795 students. Of that total, White (non-Hispanic) students totaled 80.9 percent. Other groups were represented as follows: Black (non-Hispanic), 6.2 percent; international students, 5.8 percent; Asian or Pacific Islander, 2.6 percent; American Indian or Alaskan Native, 2.0 percent; and Hispanic, 1.5 percent.

Among the university's 889 faculty, Blacks only made up 3 percent. Yet, Blacks make up 15.7 percent of the state's population.

Through two committees -- a Diversity Task Force created in 2000 and a Recruitment Task Force established last year -- the school is trying to increase minority enrollment.

"We have been recruiting aggressively for the last three years," says enrollment dean Arlene Cash, who serves on both committees.

Jordan, a journalism professor at Arkansas, says the intent of the proposed review is not to question the integrity of the campus diversity and recruitment committees, only to have someone not affiliated with the university address campus efforts.

In the alumni society's letter, dated March 5, the group said the decision to "terminate coach Richardson" makes it unclear whether Arkansas wants a more diverse institution. …

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