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Making peace at Shepherd

May 09, 2003

Leaders of the Jefferson County and West Virginia state chapters of the NAACP this week called for the removal of David Dunlop, president of Shepherd College, and urged citizens not to donate to the college but to the United Negro College Fund instead.

Dunlop calls those critics "spin doctors," but he may want to consider putting one or more of them on the school's Affirmative Action Committee.

Jim Tolbert and George Rutherford, presidents respectively, of the state and Jefferson County chapters of the NAACP, made their demand for Dunlop's ouster in a Wednesday press conference also attended by Bob Winget, president of Friends Advancing Intercultural Relations.

The complaints include:

- the fact that Shepherd has not hired a vice president for diversity as proposed by a college commission,

- that Dunlop would not reappoint Rutherford or Dunlop to the school's Affirmative Action Committee,

- that Dunlop had not worked well with the two in resolving a student's complaint that a professor's racism contributed to his poor grade,

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- that Dan Starliper, the school's Affirmative Action officer, allegedly said that the aforementioned committee had been "dominated by black people," and

- that there had never been a black person on Dunlop's executive staff.

Dunlop said that the commission recommending the vice president for diversity had only said that it "hoped" the position eventually would be created.

He also said that an investigation of the student's complaint concluded that it was poor performance, not racism.

He said he has not been able to find a black person for his executive staff, but defended the school's record, noting that the number of minority faculty members went from 5 per cent in 1995 to 11 percent in 2001.

The system may be working, as Dunlop said, but if state and local officials of the nation's premiere civil rights organization are urging people not to donate to your institution, that's not good.

There's an old adage in politics that advises office-holders to hold their friends close, but their critics closer. Dunlop should put Tolbert, Rutherford or Winget on the school's Affirmative Action Committee.

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