NAACP says Shepherd president must go

May 08, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

Local NAACP officials, including one who said the power of Shepherd College "remains in the hands of the good ole' white boys club," on Wednesday aired a list of their concerns relating to race issues at the college and called for the removal of the school's president, David L. Dunlop.

The NAACP officials and the leader of another race relations organization also called for the removal of the college's Affirmative Action officer, who they allege commented during a school meeting that the college's Affirmative Action Committee has been dominated by black people.

Jim Tolbert, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, George Rutherford, president of the Jefferson County NAACP, and Bob Winget, president of Friends Advancing Intercultural Relations, called for the actions during a press conference on the steps of McMurran Hall on Shepherd's campus Wednesday morning.


Dunlop, contacted by telephone after the press conference, refuted many of the complaints made by Tolbert, Rutherford and Winget. Dunlop said the three men know the facts behind some of the situations they mentioned, Dunlop said.

"They're like spin doctors," Dunlop said.

Tolbert, Rutherford and Winget expressed concern about a number of issues. Among them, they contended:

  • Dunlop refused to hire a vice president for diversity, a step they said was the most important recommendation from a college commission on diversity and social justice.

  • Dunlop did not work with Tolbert, Rutherford and Winget to their satisfaction regarding a former Shepherd student who complained about racist behavior from one of his professors.

  • Dunlop would not reappoint Rutherford and Tolbert to the school's Affirmative Action Committee.

  • At a meeting of the school's Affirmative Action Committee last November, Dan Starliper, the school's Affirmative Action officer, supported Dunlop's decision to exclude Rutherford and Tolbert from the Affirmative Action Committee. Rutherford, Tolbert and Winget claim Starliper said the committee "has been dominated by black people."

  • There has never been a black person on Dunlop's executive staff.

"It is long past time for the president of Shepherd College to recruit in a manner that reflects a clear understanding of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. His track record to date with regard to his executive staff demonstrates he has no intention of doing so. The power at Shepherd College remains in the hands of the good ole' white boys club," Rutherford said.

Tolbert, Rutherford and Winget called for the college's board of governors to remove Starliper from office and for West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise to remove Dunlop from office.

They called for citizens to stop supporting the Shepherd College Foundation and support the United Negro College Fund instead, called on the state Human Rights Commission to conduct hearings on Shepherd's compliance with the state Human Rights Act and called on the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to conduct hearings on Shepherd's compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President responds

Dunlop challenged the group's statement that hiring a vice president for diversity was the most important recommendation from a commission on diversity and social justice. The recommendation was the last one on a list of six recommendations and the commission said it hoped that the vice president position "eventually" would be created, Dunlop said.

Dunlop said great strides have been made in implementing the other recommendations.

Regarding the student who complained about racist behavior from a teacher, Dunlop said such cases are heard by a committee of people who are sensitive to social justice issues. Dunlop said the student alleged he received a low grade in his class because his teacher was racist.

A committee was formed to review the case and committee members unanimously decided the low grade was a result of the student's class performance and not racism, Dunlop said.

Regarding Starliper's comments on the Affirmative Action Committee, Dunlop said he believes what Starliper was trying to say was that the Affirmative Action Committee has ignored the fast-growing Hispanic and Asian population.

Starliper could not be reached for comment.

Concerning the criticism that he has not hired a black person for his executive staff, Dunlop said he has not been able to find any minority candidates for the position.

Shepherdstown minister Ernest Lyles, who is a former director of multicultural student services at Shepherd, said Dunlop's comment was interesting, given the fact that President Bush has been able to find qualified minorities to be on his staff.

Dunlop on Wednesday afternoon faxed a four-page list of what he said were accomplishments that show the advancements the college has made on racial issues.

The fax said the number of minority faculty members at the school increased from a low of 5 percent in 1995 to 11 percent in 2001.

When the college's entire staff is considered, the school has a minority population of 21 percent, well above the state average of 4.9 percent, the fax said.

The school has held events, including a multimedia concert honoring Rosa Parks, according to the fax.

"I would argue the system is working. We don't need to change our strategy," Dunlop said.

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