University of Nevada, Reno President Milton Glick said he would seek to reverse tougher admission standards if it causes a drop in minority enrollment.
Speaking to a group of community and education leaders, Glick said he's dedicated to building a "community of color" in northern Nevada.
New UNR admission standards to take effect next summer raises high school grade point requirements from 3.0 to 3.25.
Critics fear the higher requirement will be particularly hard on minority and disadvantaged students.
"I'm not a hawk on raising the GPA. I'm more of a hawk on taking the core courses," he said of the existing policy that bases high school students' grade averages on required, not elective classes.
The university increased special admissions that take more into consideration than a student's grades from 50 to 200 students last
Contrary to popular belief, athletes did not make up the majority of those special admissions, said Angela Taylor, UNR associate vice president for Student Success Services.
White students represented 59 percent of those special admissions; Hispanics, 10 percent; blacks, 6 percent; Asians/Pacific Islanders, 6 percent; and American Indians, 2 percent. Students whose ethnicity was unknown made up the remaining 17 percent.
Glick said the university has diversified the campus, and noted that minorities are about 17 percent of UNR's student body, the highest level in its history.
"That's very good, but it isn't good enough," he told the group. "It doesn't reflect the state, and it certainly doesn't reflect the state in 10 years. I don't think we need to apologize, but we need to say, how do we do better?"
Mario de la Rosa, editor of the local Spanish and English newspaper Ahora, said one way to attract minority students to UNR would be to hire more faculty of color.
Glick said he stopped a recent search for a new dean because there were no minorities among the candidates.
"I agree with you, recognizing we will always, in the end, hire the best person," he said. "But we have to ask: What does that person bring to the campus? And having a more diverse faculty increases the likelihood of all our students being more successful because they will learn the real world out there."
The job is not only to recruit students to the campus but to inspire them once they get there and make sure they succeed and earn their degrees, Glick said.
"If we build the kind of campus that I think all of us are committed to, it will be a harder campus to govern because it will be a campus with more controversy and more difference of opinion and more debate," he warned. "But it will be a better learning experience for all of our students."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)