UT-KnoxVille creates v.p. post to handleaffirmative action
The University of Tennessee will create a new vice president position specifically to boost minority enrollment and hiring, says Dr. J. Wade Gilley, the university’s president.
“For the first time, we will have a major administrator in charge of affirmative action,” Gilley told The Knoxville News-Sentinel.
The vice president will oversee what had been seven separate affirmative action offices within the five-campus university system and will report directly to Gilley.
The announcement came one day after House Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, blasted the university for failing to meet minority recruitment goals stemming from the desegregation lawsuit filed 32 years ago.
Theotis Robinson Jr. is expected to be Gilley’s choice for the new diversity vice president. Robinson is Black and a former Knoxville city councilman and a columnist for The Knoxville News-Sentinel. He currently serves as an administrative aide for diversity to the university’s senior vice president.
DeBerry berated UT officials last month over a state comptroller’s audit that said the university has yet to achieve minority enrollment and hiring goals resulting from Rita Sander Geier’s lawsuit decades ago. The lawsuit charged the state was running a dual higher education system for Blacks and Whites.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there are a lot of shortcomings,” DeBerry says of the audit, which was based on 1998 statistics.
Only UT-Chattanooga met minority undergraduate enrollment goals in 1999, with UT-Knoxville, UT-Martin and UT-Memphis falling short.
The main campus in Knoxville reported 5.9 percent minority enrollment in 1999 — the lowest of any UT campus — compared to a goal of 11 percent. Knoxville did meet one hiring goal, however. Faculty hiring came in at 3.3 percent, compared to a goal of 2.7 percent.
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