CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati is pumping more money into efforts to increase diversity, as some Black students raise concerns about race relations on the urban main campus.
UC this week announced $440,000 in new annual investments to promote and support diversity in the student population. That money will go to scholarships for women and students of color.
“This is an important investment in creating a university community that welcomes and embraces diversity,” university President Santa Ono said in a statement.
The school says other new investments focused on recruiting, retaining and graduating a diverse population will be coming in the weeks ahead.
Some Black students have complained about the racial atmosphere in the aftermath last month of the resignation of the Arts & Sciences dean, a leading Black academic official at the school. A racially offensive cartoon had circulated on campus amid criticism of the dean, Ron Jackson.
There have been two forums with college officials, and students staged a public protest.
Olutobi Akomolede, a second-year student from Mason who is black, said there has been more public discussion of race, which is helpful, and there should be even more.
“There’s definitely going to be some issues regarding race everywhere,” he told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s just the world we live in. I think everybody needs to see some real change, and everybody’s ready to make that happen.”
Blacks comprise 8.2 percent of UC’s main-campus undergraduate students and 4.2 percent of full-time professors. Graduation rates for Blacks have lagged, but school officials say they have made progress in increasing the number of applicants of color.
Debra Merchant, vice president of student affairs, said UC’s administration takes seriously student complaints about an unfriendly atmosphere for Blacks.
“Some may feel that way,” she told The Enquirer. “I can’t discount that.”
She said the school doesn’t want to “over-engineer” the student population, “but it’s important to have a critical mass.”
Interim Chief Diversity Officer Bleuzette Marshall said the school, which adopted a diversity plan in 2011, has different initiatives underway and plans a “climate survey” on campus next spring.
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