State Board Investigates Civil Rights Complaint at Bluefield State University
The Higher Education Interim Governing Board is investigating complaints of civil rights violations at Bluefield State College, the board chairwoman said recently.
The board sent two consultants — a vice president of West Virginia University and a Marshall University lawyer — to the college campus last month, said board spokeswoman Allison Adler.
They were there to investigate a complaint filed with the board in October, says Cathy Armstrong, chairwoman of the interim governing board. She did not remember who filed the complaint, but said it was not Bluefield State president, Dr. Robert Moore.
She would not disclose the contents of the complaint.
“We treat that as a personnel matter and I have no comment on it at this time,”
Bluefield State, a historically Black college, gets a $1 million grant each year because of that status. It has two full-time Black faculty members. About 10 percent of the student population is Black, compared to about 6 percent four years ago.
College spokesman Jim Nelson says the school has programs designed to help minorities attend college and supports multicultural fairs and other activities.
“We feel like we are doing a lot of things right,” Nelson says. “Certainly we have our critics, but most colleges do. … We hope that if there is no merit to these allegations, they can be put to rest and if there is merit, then they can be corrected.”
In 1997, Professor Garrett Olmstead was fired after he criticized the school’s falling Black enrollment. An administrative law judge ordered the school to rehire him in 1998.
Olmstead told The Charleston Gazette that, “I don’t sense the racial tension here that I did a few years ago. But just because people aren’t rioting in the streets doesn’t mean there aren’t problems.”
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