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UM System leaders unveil diversity effort for Mizzou campus

L-r: UM System Board of Curators chair Pam Hendrickson, UM System interim president Mike Middleton, Mizzou interim chancellor Hank Foley, and chief diversity officer Kevin McDonald.
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

The four current leaders of the University of Missouri System have announced new efforts to boost diversity on the system's flagship campus in Columbia.

They've set a goal to increase the percentage of minority faculty members at Mizzou to 13.4 percent in four years' time.

"This includes African-Americans, Hispanic, Latino, Latinas and Native Americans," said chief diversity officer Kevin McDonald.

He said those groups currently make up 6.7 percent of Mizzou's faculty.

"This effort would allow MU to increase its faculty of color beyond the national average, where currently 5 percent of faculty are African-Americans, 3 percent are Hispanic-Latino-Latina, and 1 percent are Native American," he said.

That particular goal is slightly different from one of the demands laid out by the group Concerned Students 1950.  During last fall's campus protests it called for the percentage of black faculty and staff members to be increased to 10 percent by the 2017-2018 school year.

One of the new tools being used to reach the 13.4 percent goal will be $1 million set aside to bring in post-doctoral fellows from "unrepresented groups." Hank Foley, Mizzou's interim chancellor, said the intent is bring them to campus with the goal of retaining them as faculty members.

"This fall, we find ourselves approaching one year since our university was in the national spotlight, with all the benefits of hindsight, perspective and continuing conversations that challenge us to be better," Foley said.  "With this benefit of time comes the realization that there was no one cause of last fall's events, and there will be no one solution going forward."

He continued, "but I can assure everyone of two things: First, it truly is a new day at Mizzou, with new people and new approaches; and second, we are working tirelessly to make our campus more inclusive and welcoming for all students, staff and faculty."

Last fall's unrest on the Columbia campus culminated with the resignations of former UM System President Tim Wolfe and former Mizzou chancellor Bowen Loftin.  

Pam Hendrickson, chair of the UM System Board of Curators, said that they hope to hire a new system president by the end of the year.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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