University of Kentucky President Meets With Lawmakers Over Drop in Diversity

:leftUniversity of Kentucky President Meets With Lawmakers Over Drop in Diversity

FRANKFORT, Ky.

University of Kentucky President Lee Todd met with a group of state lawmakers last month and apologized to the predominantly Black group for comments made by school officials implying that Black students could not survive academically at UK.

Todd says after a private meeting with six legislators in the Capitol Annex that he was able to correct what he called a “misimpression.” Todd also says he outlined a major minority recruitment effort at the university that includes eight new jobs.

“I had obviously left the impression that African-American students cannot compete if they come to the University of Kentucky,” Todd says. “That was not the impression we wanted to leave. Clearly, African-American students can be successful at UK.”

The meeting was sparked by comments he and other UK administrators made over recent months about the 40 percent drop in Black freshmen at UK this fall. Kentucky got 757 Black applicants, admitted 360, but enrolled only 151.

School officials said this came after back-to-back years in which UK’s Black freshman enrollment grew by 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Kentucky administrators said this year’s decline was because of an increasingly selective pool of applicants in which numerous Blacks had borderline scores or below on the ACT entrance exam.

Kentucky uses a correlation of high school grade-point average and ACT score to determine whether an applicant is likely to succeed and thus should be admitted.

“We’re very committed to recruiting faculty, students and staff of a diverse nature,” Todd says.

State Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, called the meeting “relatively productive.” Neal says UK will have to demonstrate that it will increase its Black enrollment.

“There can’t be any equivocation,” he says.

State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, wrote a Sept. 19 letter of complaint to Todd precipitated the meeting.

Todd says he will also create a Committee on Research and Analysis on the Success of African-American Students at UK; he will have “listening sessions” with faculty, staff, students and the community; and the Multicultural Affairs Web site will be upgraded.

In an e-mail to all UK faculty, students and staff, Todd said the university is “not doing enough to employ more African-Americans in top- and mid-level management.”

Todd accepted blame for the problems.

“Ultimately, as the leader of this institution, I am responsible,” he says.

— Associated Press



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