More than three years after being condemned by an independent auditor as one of the worst universities for faculty diversity and overall racial inclusivity the auditor had ever seen, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) reports some improvement in its diversity profile.
In 2006, only three of the university’s 115 full professors were Black and one was Latino, the Associated Press reported. Today, with associate and full professor combined, there are two Latino professors and 11 African-American professors, university officials say.
University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo E. Morton, and Alfonso Zárate, chair of the university’s Hispanic Advisory Board, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Wednesday to establish a framework to address the persisting racial issues, such as increasing the number of underrepresented minorities, financial aid assistance for students that qualify, and improving efforts to recruit and retain minority faculty.
“I am pleased about the commitment UMKC is making to enhance the educational opportunities for Hispanic students,” said Zárate. “The MOU is only the first of many steps at addressing issues that oftentimes impede the lifelong educational opportunities and progress of minority groups. We must continue efforts to dialogue and make a commitment as a community, parents, students, faculty and institutions to the fulfillment of this document.”
This MOU is similar to one UMKC signed with the Kansas City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in April 2007, after having drawn internal and external ire for the campus’s historically chilly environment for Black students.
The NAACP Kansas City chapter and the university signed a memorandum of understanding, mediated by the U.S. Department of Justice, that pledged to improve the underfunded and understaffed Black studies program. The university also promised to recruit and retain Black faculty and students and to provide diversity training.
In 2008, minority students constituted 25 percent of UMKC’s student population. Hispanic students made up 4 percent, while African-American students constituted 13 percent.
“This MOU is a critical step in providing greater opportunity for students and achieving academic distinction through the ongoing collaboration with our urban community,” added Morton. “The success of our university and the success of Kansas City are undeniably connected, and I am grateful to the leaders of the UMKC Hispanic Advisory Board for their commitment to helping UMKC achieve excellence.”
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