Virginia Tech needs to be more aggressive in its recruitment of blacks.
This was one of the major points presented in a meeting between Tech President William E. Lavery and the Tech chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People Wednesday night.
Lavery encouraged the Tech NAACP, saying, "Just rest assured, you being here does make a difference."
This statement was supported by Tech's success rate in recruitment of blacks at last spring's orientation in Richmond where out of 137 blacks attending, 119 enrolled in Tech or Fall Quarter.
But black students only make up two to three percent of the total student population at Tech, according to Tech NAACP chapter president Brian Roberts.
Aside from the small black student population, "the most serious problem we have is employment of minority and staff," Lavery said.
The main problem with black employment is not with hiring blacks, but with retaining black faculty and staff, Lavery explained.
"I don't know why, but we have made progress in the number of women, Asians and Hispanics. It's not that we're not hiring blacks. It is hard keeping them."
Little reason was cited for the low retention rate, except for the competition among universities for black faculty and staff.
Tech is trying to keep an edge on competition by keeping the colleges aware of the need for black faculty and staff, Lavery said.
"The normal way of recruiting faculty is to set up a departmental committee. The committees need to be sensitized. We ask to see the work for affirmative action," Lavery said.
As for future black faculty and staff, "we've got blacks in athe pipeline." The pipeline is Lavery's reference to black Tech students who have continued into graduate school and soon will teach.
The possibility of a future minority affairs office also dominated the discussion. "We've got to decide why we need one," Lavery said.
The Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action office handles the staffing and employment of minorities now. But, blacks have no special university services.
The minority affairs office would work to make departments aware of black achievements beyond what is reported in history books. According to Assistant Director of Admissions Calvin Jamison, "It needs to be a functional office with clout. This is the way it would be most effective."