Minority leaders said plans to dedicate $35 million of the $1 billion capital campaign to "minority permanence" will give the University an edge in attracting and retaining top scholars. "It's gone from bemoaning absence to celebrating presence to planning permanence," Smith said. Vice President for Development Rick Nahm said this week that the campaign has already raised $17 million in pledges and gifts for minority permanence. The money will be used for faculty support, research funding, graduate fellowships and other programs, Nahm said. He added that, to his knowledge, no other peer institution has identified a similarly high fundraising target to attract and keep minorities. Officials have not discussed using part of the money for diversifying Locust Walk, Nahm said. But he added that once the committee examining the residential make-up of the Walk makes specific recommendations, officials may allocate some money if asked to. Rufus Ragin, who coordinates minority permanence efforts for the capital campaign, said this week that identifying such an effort in the campaign reflects "a very significant commitment on Penn's part to minorities." "This is a definite statement on the part of the University to expand its diversity efforts," Ragin said. "This will benefit not only Penn but also the education of the minority leadership of the 21st century." Part of the money raised by the campaign will be allocated to the Minority Permanence Development Fund, which is run through the Provost's Office. According to Ragin, the fund supports graduate fellowships, faculty development programs and other efforts to increase minority presence and retention on campus. Ragin added that although fundraising is a "challenge," he is finding that "people are becoming more and more receptive to supporting diversity at Penn." Black Student League President Buzz Thomas said last night that the minority permanence effort is a step toward promoting minorities' experience on campus, adding that he hopes to see the number of black faculty members increase. "There's definitely a need for increased funding for areas of education for blacks," Thomas said. "The University says there's a lack of blacks Ph.D.s for hiring black faculty . . . Now they're starting to groom our own black Ph.D. candidates for the future." But Thomas added that other measures should be taken in the short term to increase minority presence, such as bringing in black faculty members from black colleges. "There's a lot of talent at the black colleges that Penn fails to recognize," he said. Other minority leaders were unavailable for comment last night. The campaign, which is in its second official year, has raised $533 million and endowed 88 of its targeted 150 professorships. Roxanne Patel contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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