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U president on diversity: 'We've made some progress... but it's been slow.'

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: November 21, 2011 - 10:12 AM

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has promised to pick up the pace on increasing the diversity of the institution.

During his recent keynote address at the university's Equity and Diversity Breakfast, Kaler asked for "candid, even blunt" advice on what's working -- and what's not. He also offered some blunt remarks of his own: 

"Over the years, we've made some progress here at the University, but it's been slow. Frankly, the data is not all that impressive.

In the year 2000 — system-wide — about 11 percent of our students were students of color. This fall, a decade later, we're at 14 percent.

And among our faculty, about 16 percent are people of color, also up 3 percentage points since 2005, but lagging behind many of our peer institutions.

I have heard people across the University ask this question: 'Are we doing everything we can to make people feel like this is the place they want to be?'

My answer is: If we're not, we need to get our creativity and ideas together to make it happen."

Kaler concluded by announcing the launch of a national search for a new vice president for equity and diversity:

"By appointment of a vice president, I am keeping this position at the highest level of our leadership.

That is an indication — and, in fact, I hope it is a clear and unmistakable signal — of how important this issue is to me and our University system-wide."

Read the full speech here.

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