University of Kentucky Professors Criticize President on Diversity Issues - Higher Education

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University of Kentucky Professors Criticize President on Diversity Issues

by Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky.

University of Kentucky President Lee Todd has not promoted racial
diversity on campus and sometimes ignores Black student and faculty
accomplishments, a group of professors claimed in a letter.

The professors, who called themselves the “Concerned African American
Faculty,” wrote Todd a letter criticizing his administration for
allegedly being unresponsive to them. Currently, UK has a climate that
“minimizes and omits our numerous achievements and expertise,” the
professors said in a three-page letter.

Todd has reviewed the letter, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. “His
intent is to get back directly with those faculty who wrote the
letter.”

Blanton said Todd would “want to act in the near future” on their
complaints but that the UK president would take it up with the faculty
“rather than engage in a conversation through the newspaper.”

Recently, Todd apologized to a group of state lawmakers for comments an
administrator made regarding a 40 percent drop this fall in Black
student enrollment. This fall, UK had 757 Black applicants, admitted
360 and enrolled 151.

UK has about 11,000 faculty and staff, and about 1,100 of them are Black, according to the school’s latest numbers.

Each of the nine people who signed the letter were full UK professors.

They also made other claims in the letter including that UK has few
Black administrators responsible for line-item budgets and that few
Blacks are invited to work on review committees.

“If the presence of African-Americans is absent from any areas of
accountability, then how can the need for racial diversity be
considered seriously by the university community?” the letter said.

Blanton said Todd thought “the issues that they’re talking about are
serious issues and challenges that we know the university faces.” Todd
has also met with legislators and people in the community and has a
plan for addressing Black student enrollment at UK, Blanton said.

Rep. Darryl Owens, one of the lawmakers who met with Todd, said he was
“greatly concerned” and “really distressed” by the letter. Owens,
D-Louisville, said from his conversations with the faculty, there
appeared to be a “high level of dissatisfaction with the way their
problems are dealt with” and that it was almost a “hostile working
environment” for them.

“This is 2005,” Owens said. “It is almost incomprehensible to me that
we are dealing with these problems at this time with our flagship
university.”

— Associated Press



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