U of M Board of Regents chair apologizes for vice chair’s question on diversity, commits to equity training
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell has apologized for the question asked by Regent Steve Sviggum last week about the Morris campus possibly being “too diverse.”
“We all bear responsibility for speaking up and condemning the question,” Powell said in a written statement. “As the leader of our board, I should have done better and I am not proud of my inaction.”
Sviggum posed the question to Janet Schrunk Ericksen, interim chancellor at the University of Minnesota-Morris, during a board meeting last Thursday.
“I have received a couple letters — two, actually — from friends whose children are not going to go to Morris, because it is too diverse of a campus. They just didn’t feel comfortable there,” said Sviggum. “Is it all possible, in the specifics of Morris, that we’ve become too diverse for a student to attend? Again, I am on thin ice. I understand that. At 71 or 72 years old I say things that I would never even thought when I was 52.”
Sviggum noted that enrollment at Morris had declined by more than 40% “over the past decade” and that was why he asked the question.
Powell states in his apology letter that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training will be provided to the entire board of regents in order to “fully understand and reaffirm the power that different perspectives bring to our shared success.”
He also shared plans to hold a Board of Regents meeting on the Morris campus in March 2023 in order to “focus on engaging with the Morris community, including students, faculty, staff, and the broader Morris region.”
Powell’s full apology can be read below: