Turner tempers criticism with optimism
in State of African-American Affairs address
Photo by Rebecca Arrington
During his annual Black History Month address, U.Va.’s dean of the Office of African-American Affairs M. Rick Turner stridently criticized what he saw as the University’s failings in some aspects of diversity—including a lack of black faculty and administrators and low black student enrollment—but he also described an unprecedented “serious, sustained attempt” to address the issues of diversity and equity that has made great gains in the past year.
Turner pointed to a recent study in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education that ranked U.Va.’s 86 percent graduation rate for African-American students as No. 1 among 25 “Public Ivies.” He said that he was proud of that accomplishment, but added his belief that the University can do better.
“I think we can realistically aspire to raise this percentage to 90 percent,” said Turner. “Our future challenge is to build on our successes.”
And how, Turner asked, can the University build on this success?
“We must become more vigilant, more honest and committed to creating a fully and truly welcoming environment,” Turner said. “An environment, as all of you know, is not welcoming when we fail to pay close attention to segregation in our midst.”
The complete audio of Turner’s State of African-American Affairs address is available at http://www.virginia.edu/uvapodcast/