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Measure of colleges' progress debated

SHAKER VILLAGE AT PLEASANT HILL — A conflict has developed over a state regulation that measures the public universities' progress in meeting equal opportunity goals.

Some universities want to change a regulation that governs the campuses' progress in increasing the number of black Kentuckians among administration, faculty and staff, said Sherron Jackson, an assistant vice president for equal employment opportunity and finance at the state Council on Higher Education.

He declined to identify the universities.

Jackson said some universities want to be able to count out-of-state blacks in the figures, which he said would be contrary to a regulation.

A state law empowers the council to withhold approval of a new academic program if a university is not meeting equal opportunity goals. But a regulation also allows the council to grant a waiver to a university that is deficient so it can proceed with a new academic program.

A university's failure to make satisfactory progress toward the goals can delay or even prevent approval of new academic degree programs.

The issue became public Monday when the state Council on Postsecondary Education met for about 11/2 hours in Mercer County with the council's Committee on Equal Opportunities, which monitors the campuses' progress on racial diversity.

Jackson said the committee was ”concerned with challenges“ to policies.

Regarding equal opportunity, Jackson said the ”progress of the institutions has frankly been slow but upward on a steady trend.“ There have been more gains among black faculty and staff but fewer among administrators, he said.

The matter arose when committee members expressed feelings of being overlooked or ignored by the council in dealings with the universities.

”Our reports are not always relished nor accepted completely,“ said committee member David Welch of Ashland.

”You do not know how many visits (to campuses) we leave where we see the steam coming out of the noses of presidents and vice presidents,“ Welch said.

Although the committee wants more attention from the council, committee members could not cite any instance in which the council approved a new academic program contrary to the committee's recommendation or findings.

Richard Crofts, the council's interim president, said he did not consider the situation a crisis and thought committee members might be overestimating the universities' reactions.

”I've not heard the president of any university make a frontal attack on that law,“ Crofts said.

In a recent meeting with some presidents ”they may have heard me say some things that making an attack on that law would not be very fruitful,“ Crofts said.

Council Vice Chairman Dan Flanagan of Campbellsville said he had never gotten negative reaction from the presidents about the committee and that the council supports the committee's work.

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