Meeting looks at minority access

By Louise Koryta

Despite NIU’s progess in attempting to improve minority access to higher education, a recent budget reduction might cause a delay.

At last week’s Board of Regents meeting, Alfonzo Thurman, director of special projects, presented NIU’s answer to problems unveiled by the chancellor’s Task Force on Minority Concerns.

The task force distributed a copy of its findings at the August, 1986 Regents meeting. According to the report, Regency universities NIU, Illinois State University and Sangamon State University were to devise a way to address the task force’s four objectives:

*To enhance the pool of qualified minority students wishing to pursue higher education.

*To improve the retention and graduation rate of minority students admitted to the Regency universities.

*To encourage graduate and professional study by minority students.

*To encourage minority graduate students to pursue careers in higher education.

NIU’s plan to combat the problems include the continuation of the Upward Bound and CHANCE programs as well as planning for an early intervention program.

The CHANCE program highlighted NIU’s plans because 70 percent of minority students come through the program and 25 percent were admitted to NIU according to the regular admission requirements, Thurman said.

Although one audience member pointed out the high cost of running the CHANCE program, Thurman said it will continue nonetheless.

Thurman said another aspect of NIU’s plan is to keep in touch with Chicago community colleges. He said this is necessary because the task force’s objectives are geared primarily toward black and Hispanic students.

Because of the lack of funds, the early intervention program might not get started, Thurman said. The program was set up to reach minority children through the Rockford school system, churches and community centers. He said everyone involved is disappointed at the delay.

Whether these programs will have sharp reductions in funding will be decided at the September Regents meeting.

Thurman said more money is necessary to maintain and improve the programs and questioned the Regents’ Student Affairs committee. “Why skip a generation of thinkers?”

Although the task force was put together four years ago, this was the first annual progress report by the Regency universities.