Delaware Public Media

UD diversity plan calls for better recruitment, grad rates

May 19, 2016

University of Delaware officials are trying to move past its history of racial discrimination by releasing a long-awaited diversity action plan Thursday.

It’s been one of the biggest points of contention with Delaware’s largest university among state and community officials for years.

The school’s undergraduate population in fall 2015 was about 75 percent white, with other minorities each tallying single digit representation.

Carol Henderson, UD’s vice provost for diversity, says recruiting more underrepresented students by increasing scholarships and making sure they graduate through more robust tutoring options is key.

“That programming is becoming more fine tuned, but it’s one thing to get students here, it’s another thing to retain them and so there’s a partnership between not only access and recruitment, but retention and student success and we’re pairing those two together,” Henderson said.

But she says it's tough unless you acknowledge the school's history.

Delaware’s largest university was desegregated by a court order in 1950 after the school refused to allow a group of ten black students.

“I can’t stress enough that the University of Delaware just got desegregated – even though we don’t like to talk about that – in the ‘50s, so we are still relatively young in cultivating a narrative that says we are an open community," Henderson said.

Last year, students misidentified a metal hook and string left in a tree used to hang lanterns as a noose, sparking widespread discussion on social media and drew more than a thousand people in front of Memorial Hall for an open discussion of race and diversity on campus.

Th plan will track progress over the next five years by improved graduation rates and lowering discrimination complaints.