The University of Missouri (UM) made headlines last fall after a series of racial incidents led to student protests that, among other things, prompted the resignation of UM System President Timothy M. Wolfe and Chancellor Bowen Loftin.  The UM student protests ignited similar demonstrations nationwide.

Since then, the UM system has taken steps to address students’ demands and concerns, including the recent announcement of a plan to boost diversity among the faculty.

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Student demonstrators had demanded the university increase Black faculty from 3 percent to 10 percent by 2018. In response, school authorities recently announced their goal of doubling “minority” faculty from 6.7 percent to 13.4 percent by 2020.

School officials said they are allocating $1.6 million toward that goal–$600,000 toward the recruitment and retention of minority teachers and $1 million toward drawing and grooming postdoctoral candidates for tenure track posts.

In the past two years, of the 451 faculty members hired at the university system’s Columbia campus just 19 were African-American, according to information cited by the Kansas City Star.

The Athens News in Ohio recently reported that Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis—the first African-American president of the institution—is on the shortlist for the vacant presidency at the University of Missouri.

The state’s university system also hired its first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Kevin McDonald, during the summer. And, beginning this year, the university will also conduct annual “climate surveys” to gauge the efficacy of its $4.2 million investment into building a more diverse and inclusive campus, among other initiatives.

Despite the efforts, all is not completely healed on the Midwest campus. In late September, officials announced that the Delta Upsilon fraternity had been temporarily suspended following the alleged use of racial slurs by some of its members.

“There was no one cause for what happened 10 months ago on this campus, and there will be no one solution,” MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley was quoted as saying by the Star. “We are working tirelessly to move toward being more inclusive.”

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO