Ethnic Comments Get Indiana University Trustee in Hot Water

Recently Indiana University president Adam W. Herbert, a black man, announced that he was stepping down. The resignation came on the heels of a decision by the university faculty to ask the board of trustees for a review of his leadership. The trustees of the university immediately sought to downplay the racial implications of the resignation by launching a new initiative to increase racial diversity on campus. Blacks are only 4 percent of the 30,000 undergraduate students at the Bloomington campus. Black students graduate from the Indiana University undergraduate program at a rate that is 20 percentage points below the rate for whites.

But as the university trustees debated the best way to increase racial diversity on campus, a further controversy erupted. Trustee Tom Reilly Jr., founder of Reilly Industries, a chemical manufacturing firm, sent an e-mail to his colleagues on the board suggesting the best way to recruit black students. Noting the success Purdue University has had in increasing the number of blacks on campus, Reilly wrote, “Enthusiastic whites do better in black high schools in contacts, trips booked, and follow-ups.” He went on to say that Purdue’s chief recruiter for minority and female students was “tall, blond, Scandinavian, and attractive.”