RCC meets diversity goals

First Posted: 1/15/2009

LUMBERTON -- With more than a year remaining on its timetable, Robeson Community College has already exceeded its goals for ethnic and gender diversity in employment.
School officials set Oct. 1, 2003, as the target date for increasing the number of minority faculty and staff members. The plan was approved in September 2001.
RCC has exceeded those goals and, in some cases, doubled the target. The board of trustees is expected to hear a report on the number of minorities in administrative, faculty and staff positions during Monday's 7 p.m. board meeting.
“We're right on target,” said Linda Leach, vice president for personnel. “We've set some ambitious goals for ourselves and have worked hard to reach them.”
The college has increased the number of blacks on its professional staff by 9.1 percent. Its goal was 5.9 percent by October 2003.
The number of blacks in administrative, professional and managerial positions has increased by 6.1 percent. The college's goal was 3.9 percent. The number of Indians in those same positions has increased by 4 percent; the goal was 1 percent.
There are 179 full-time employees at the college: 72 whites, 65 Indians, 39 blacks, two Asians and an Hispanic.
The 74-member faculty consists of 33 whites, 23 Indians, 15 blacks, two Asians and an Hispanic, according to the school's ethnic and gender diversity report.
Of the four current college vice presidents, two are white; one is American Indian and one is black. Last year, there were three whites and one black in vice president positions.
Of the five current assistant vice presidents, theree are white, one black, and one American Indian. Of the seven department chairs, there are three whites, two blacks and two American Indians.
The school has also increased the number of male faculty members by 2 percent, its goal for October 2003.
There are currently 22 male faculty members and 52 women.
“We're meeting our goals real well,” said President Fred Williams, who will leave the college on Sept. 30. “We're one of the most diverse communities in the state and we want our college to reflect that.”
Vincent Revels, an American Indian, will serve as interim president until a permanent replacement for Williams is found.
Ex-trustee skeptical
Three trustees contacted for this story said they didn't want to comment until they saw report.
But a former trustee said the increased diversity in employment is long overdue. Tom Jones said while he was on the board, he urged school administrators to hire more blacks and Indians as instructors, faculty members or administrators. But the highest percentage of minority employment remained in maintenance and technical jobs.
“I had submitted a diversity plan while I was a trustee that I thought was very fair, but it was rejected,” Jones said. “People painted me as a villan because I tried to talk about race and fairness. I don't know that they've made any improvements out there, but I doubt it.”
Williams said while the college may not have hired minorities at the rate that some wanted, he has always strived to have more racial balance at the school.
“We've been pretty aggressive in attracting the best people from all backgrounds and races,” Williams said. “It takes time, but it is important that students see people like themselves in the classroom and among the staff. That has always been a goal.”

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