The labor union representing the faculty at Wilberforce University has issued a vote of no confidence in President Floyd Flake that the school said on Friday is tied to contract talks. Black enrollment at the University of Colorado is up 24 percent within this year’s freshman class while the University of Louisville has hired 45 Asian, Black and Hispanic professors.
Flake No-Confidence Vote Dismissed as Contract Ploy
The labor union representing the faculty at Wilberforce University has issued a vote of no confidence in President Floyd Flake that the school said on Friday is tied to contract talks.
Flake, a former Democratic congressman from New York, was named president of the private historically Black university in southwest Ohio in July 2002.
The no-confidence vote occurred in March, according to Richard Deering, chief negotiator for the Wilberforce University Faculty Association. Deering said the vote wasn’t revealed publicly until now because teachers wanted to discuss the matter with the administration first and the union was reluctant to talk publicly about the vote.
A statement on the vote accused Flake of rarely being on campus, saying a lack of administrative oversight had resulted in a decline in academic activities.
Marshall Mitchell, executive vice president and university spokesman, said Friday that Flake typically spends between 1.5 and three days a week on campus.
Mitchell said the vote is tied to contract talks.
“We’re in the middle of union negotiations, and they’re not getting everything they want,” he said of the faculty.
Mitchell said one reason Flake was hired was so he could use his extensive connections to give the university more of a national reach.
“What they (faculty) viewed as a downside, the board of trustees viewed as an upside because the university had become so insular in the past,” he said.
Mitchell said that under Flake’s leadership, the school has reduced its debt, increased fundraising and boosted enrollment.
About 725 undergraduates are enrolled at Wilberforce, about 15 miles east of Dayton.
Black Enrollment Up Sharply at CU
Black enrollment at the University of Colorado is rising amid a concerted recruitment effort, with a 24 percent increase within this year’s freshman class.
“We really increased our focus on recruiting African-American students and making them feel welcome at CU,” Admissions Director Kevin MacLennan said last week. “I think it’s paid off.”
The university projects that 102 Blacks will be among this year’s freshmen, but they will still be only the fourth-largest ethnic group, after Whites, Asians and Hispanics.
Black enrollment in the freshman class fell to 66 in 2004 and 2005, a two-decade low, even though overall minority enrollment increased.
MacLennan said university officials met with Black community groups including fraternities, a ministerial alliance and a professional society to discuss ways to increase Black enrollment, and then rolled their suggestions into the school’s recruiting.
University President Hank Brown visited Black congregations, and current students sent handwritten letters to prospective Black students.
School leaders escorted hundreds of potential students and their families to home football games and on campus tours. Admissions counselors met with them one-on-one.
Last fall, the school increased scholarships for minority and first-generation students to $1,500 a year, from $1,000 previously.
CU students also offer campus tours to middle and high school students, and the school’s outreach center helps guide applicants through the entrance process.
Freshman Shewaga Gebre-Michael of Lakewood is the fourth member of her family to attend CU. She chose the school over others even though her older sister, Mebraht “Mo” Gebre-Michael, got a racist e-mail threatening her with death two years ago when she was a student body president at the university.
Shewaga said she was impressed with the show of campus unity that followed the incident.
“There’s always going to be that ignorant person,” she said. “But I think it turned out to be more positive.”
University of Louisville Adds Black Faculty
The recent hiring of Dr. Nat Irvin II, the Strickler Executive-in-Residence Professor of Management in the College of Business, along with 13 other Black professors, has helped the University of Louisville continue its five-year trend of increasing diversity among its roughly 1,200-member faculty.
Since 2002-03 the university has seen the number of full-time Black members grow from 61 to 98. They now account for more than 7 percent of the entire faculty, according to preliminary numbers made available this week.
The university also has hired 26 Asian and five Hispanic professors.
“We feel really very blessed that so many people have wanted to come here, because they contribute a lot to our community,” said U of L Provost Shirley Willihnganz.
The school isn’t alone in its pursuit of more minority faculty members. The University of Kentucky is also projecting an increase of 10 Black professors — the largest number of hires since the 2002-03 school year. That brings the number of Blacks among the 2,200 faculty members to 81 — more than 3 percent.
The university also hired five Hispanic faculty members this year, bringing the total to 33.
The state’s eight public universities and 16 community colleges must show progress in increasing the number of Black students, faculty and staff under Kentucky’s equal opportunity plan and an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The goals for each school vary, and all the universities are compiling final numbers on minority faculty members, which will be forwarded to the Council on Post-Secondary Education for a report in January.
There’s a lot on the line for the universities. Failing to make progress in diversifying the faculty and enrollment could mean state restrictions in implementing new academic programs.
An endowed chair helped Irvin make the decision, but so did other factors, including diversity on campus and the university’s leadership.
“When you make a decision like this, it’s not about money,” Irvin said. “It will be about the other things. … Can I make a difference here? Am I going to be appreciated here? Is it going to be a good fit for me and the work that I do? Those are key things.”
– Associated Press
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