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IU falls short in recruiting blacks

Figures since ’75 at 4 percent for students, faculty

– Indiana University’s efforts to recruit more black students and faculty to its Bloomington campus have fallen well short of the school’s goals, but some on campus hope the hiring of a new associate vice president in a campus diversity office will help turn the tide.

Graduate student Carl Darnell says IU figures show blacks have accounted for an average of 4 percent of students since 1975. That’s despite a push announced by then-President Adam Herbert in 2007 to double underrepresented minority students by 2013-14, the Herald-Times reported.

Faculty numbers are similar: Just 54 of 1,341 full-time faculty, or 4.1 percent, are black.

The challenges at IU’s Bloomington campus aren’t new. The Ku Klux Klan had wide control over the state in the 1920s, and even civil rights victories of the mid-1960s failed to make the city appealing to black scholars.

IU has tried over the years to boost its numbers. During the early 1970s, former Vice Chancellor Herman Hudson scoured the Midwest for promising black scholars and pitched the idea that they would go to Bloomington as a team.

“It was very appealing to us, which is why it was easy to forget the ruralness of Indiana and the history,” said Portia Maultsby, a professor of folklore and ethnomusicology and director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture.

“Knowing I was not coming here by myself was very reassuring.”

IU offers a scholarship program targeting high-achieving minority students that is named in part for Hudson. The program provides money and promises a high level of advising and support to recipients.

But Darnell, who arrived at IU in 2010, said he doesn’t think IU has followed through on its commitment to recruiting and retaining blacks.

“I looked back from about 1975 to the present, and what I see is that on the average, IU Bloomington is 4 percent black. Every year. Every year. Every year. It may go up to 5 or 5.8 one year and then drop down to 3, but the average is 4,” he said.

President Michael McRobbie says numbers on most of IU’s other campuses have improved but acknowledged that there are “intense” discussions about ways to improve Bloomington’s minority enrollment.

Edwin Marshall, vice president of IU’s office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, said the university has pumped $1.9 million into the Hudson & Holland Scholarship Program and has committed $300,000 to study-abroad programs for minority students.

Another step has been to hire a new associate vice president for the office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs to help guide minority leadership programs.

Law professor Kevin Brown hailed the hiring of Martin McCrory.

“We think we finally have something that is going to be really helpful, and I’m glad to hear the campus is listening to us,” he said.

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