LEXINGTON, Ky. - Officials from the Lexington branch of the NAACP met with leaders of the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine Friday to discuss concerns about the low number of African American and Hispanic students enrolled at the school.
Black students have made up about 3-5% of the medical school classes at UK over the past decade.
“Though there are steps being made, neither the NAACP nor the University of Kentucky medical school are comfortable with those numbers. There’s always room for improvement and that’s what we hope to get out of this meeting,” said Rev. Jim Thurman, president of the local NAACP chapter.
Last year a graduate of the UK medical school brought the issue of minority enrollment to the NAACP’s attention after witnessing several of his fellow classmates leave or get dismissed from the program.
Dr. Shambra Mulder, state education chair for the NAACP, said the number of black applicants is on the rise, but the number of students who actually enroll and go on to graduate from the medical school is very low. Need for financial assistance is one reason, another could involve how minority students are treated at UK.
“We still have to address the fact that some of the students when they get here – even if they don’t get dismissed or if they don’t leave – some of them still may be dealing with some issues in the College of Medicine. And I think that they are inviting us to speak with those students, invited us to continually talk about that.”
Both sides described the meeting was productive.
College of Medicine Dean Dr. Frederick de Beer says UK pledged to work with the NAACP on outreach efforts in Kentucky high schools, recruitment, mentoring, and finding sources of financial aid.
In October UK hired civil rights activist Chester Grundy to work on recruiting minority applicants for the medical school and develop student retention programs.