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Higher education groups announce campaign to support race initiative


Two leading national higher education organizations have
announced a year-long campaign to encourage the nation’s colleges and
universities to launch activities in support of U.S. President Bill
Clinton’s national dialogue on race relations.

Officials from the American Council on Education (ACE) and the
Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) joined
Dr. John Hope Franklin, the distinguished historian who chairs the
President’s Advisory Board on Race; and a panel of college and
university presidents at a news conference held during ACE’s biennial
“Educating One-Third of a Nation” conference last month to make the

“We look forward to the help in getting our message out,” Franklin told news conference attendees.

Franklin welcomed and endorsed the commitment from ACE and
AAC&U, which collectively represent more than 2,000 institutions of
higher education. He says colleges and universities have a unique role
to play in the national dialogue because they have dealt extensively
with issues involving affirmative action, campus diversity, and

“These institutions have a particular vantage point from which to
examine the issues of race and racism. The American Council on
Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities
have answered President Clinton’s call to action by recognizing the
role that colleges and universities can play in this national
dialogue,” Franklin said.

ACE president Dr. Stanley O. Ikenberry says that ensuring equal
opportunity remains an unsolved challenge for all Americans. He noted
that educational institutions have traditionally been leaders in
creating opportunity.

“Higher education has a special role to play in this national
dialogue. What better place to engage these issues than on our nation’s
campuses? Higher education has been in the forefront of opening
opportunity in the past, and we pledge to redouble our efforts in the
future,” added Ikenberry.

AAC&U president Dr. Paula Brownlee says the president’s
challenge is an appropriate one for higher education since it has
confronted “issues of race and social justice” for more than three

“We happily accept President Clinton’s invitation to join our
efforts to his vision of transformed race relations. Together, we will
make this vision a national reality,” said Brownlee.

During the news conference, presidents from five higher education
institutions spoke about race relations and campus diversity
initiatives taking place at their schools. The presidents’ group
included Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, president of the State University of
New York at Stony Brook; Dr. Eduardo J. Padron, president of Miami-Dade
Community College; Dr. Yolanda Moses, president of City College of New
York; Dr. Robert A. Corrigan, president of San Francisco State
University; and Sister Karen M. Kennelly, president of Mount St. Mary’s

Corrigan told news conference attendees that dealing with issues of
race and diversity at San Francisco State University is not unusual for
students, faculty, and administrators because the school has a student
population that is 65 percent nonWhite.

“This campus is different. The dialogue we have on race and diversity is nonstop,” Corrigan said.

He added that the school has numerous community-based programs which
enable students and faculty to interact with a wide array of people and
communities outside the campus.

More than 1,300 college and university faculty, administrators, and
presidents attended the conference, which was held in Miami, according
to ACE officials. Conference participants examined, in workshops and
meetings, issues of diversity, and educational access that included
affirmative action, curricular reform, and educational partnerships.

Franklin, along with two members of the President’s Advisory Board
on Race, former Mississippi governor William Winter and Reverend Suzan
Johnson Cook of the Bronx Christian Fellowship, addressed the entire
conference. Judith Winston, executive director of the president’s race
initiative, also spoke to the entire conference about the role that
higher education can play in the national dialogue on race.

Coinciding with the “Educating One-Third of a Nation” conference was
the seventh annual meeting of the Ford Foundation’s Campus Diversity
Initiative, a program conducted by the AAC&U. Representatives from
more than 200 institutions participated in the initiative, which
promotes cultural diversity as a resource for learning.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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