A Monumental Task Faces New Diversity Czar at the University of Arkansas

Blacks are 16 percent of the population of the state of Arkansas. But they are only 5.3 percent of the student body at the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. The black percentage of the student body is less than one third the level that would exist if racial parity were to prevail.

Yesterday, Charles F. Robinson, director of the university’s African-American studies program, took on new duties as vice provost for diversity. It is his job to improve the number of black students on campus. He will be assisted by a new 15-member Chancellor’s Council on Diversity. The council, made up of representatives from the faculty, alumni, and staff, will devise strategies for increasing diversity. It will also be asked to raise money to further the university’s diversity agenda.

Robinson wants to simplify diversity efforts and focus on the recruitment and retention of black and other minority students. Other issues can be tackled, he believes, once a critical mass of minority students is assembled.