Le Moyne seeks more diversity, but college board remains 97 percent white


Amari D. Pollard, Editor-in-Chief

While Le Moyne College is trying to increase student diversity, its governing board remains 97 percent white.

Thirty-seven out of 38 members of the college’s board of trustees are white. The only person  of color is Wright Lassiter III.

By contrast, the undergraduate student body is 14.6 percent minority. Le Moyne says it wants to increase that percentage; the college even plans to hire an assistant director of multicultural admissions to recruit more multicultural students.

The college’s Director of Multicultural Affairs says he’d like to see a more diverse board of trustees, because it’s important for students to see themselves represented in important roles.

“Having a racially diverse board would benefit the institution because their experiences as individuals will help the board appreciate the needs of diversity on campus and provide a real voice that represents an important group of our students,” said Bennie Williams. “With the changing landscape of higher education, it is vital that these boards use their knowledge and expertise to help the college stand out among other institutions.”

Le Moyne President and Board of Trustees member Linda LeMura said that the college is always working to increase the board’s diversity so it better reflects that of the student body, and of society in general.

“There are many talented and successful individuals from diverse backgrounds who we would love to recruit to our board, but often it’s a matter of them having the time to commit to becoming a board member,” said LeMura. “Increasing our diversity has been, and will continue to be, a major focus of our efforts in regard to College governance.”

Le Moyne appointed six new trustees this year. All are white.

According to LeMura, the Board of Trustees is responsible for contributing to the governance of the college in such a way that helps shape the experience of current and future generations of students while also fulfilling the careers of faculty and staff. They oversee and shape Le Moyne’s policies, and LeMura along with senior administration makes sure they are properly implemented.

The board is comprised of 12 female members, 31 Le Moyne Alum, and have Jesuits, businesspeople, academic, and community leaders among them. Along with the Board of Trustees, other standing committees include enrollment, academics, facilities, student development and honors.

While the Board of Trustees helps to guide and direct Le Moyne towards areas within the college that need focus, Williams says it is the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the division of Student Development that have been campus leaders on issues of diversity.

According to Williams, conversations revolving around diversity tend to make people feel uncomfortable, and that feeling can contribute to people in higher education avoiding those topic and conversations around it. However, Williams believes Le Moyne has been paying a lot more attention to diversity within the past couple years, especially since reviving the position of Director of Multicultural Affairs.

“Diversity should be supported through every office and department on campus. The admissions office is often the first point of contact for new students so it is important that diversity is supported there,” said Williams. “Students come to Le Moyne for an education which means that diversity should be supported and represented in their classes and assignments.”

Williams said the Multicultural Office has made the effort to expose the Le Moyne community to different cultures through speaking about and celebrating different cultural heritage months and hosting events. This way the college can experience and learn about various cultures as a whole through different departments, rather than having cultural clubs on campus solely bear that responsibility.

Many students are unsure of what the Board of Trustees does, but senior Sarah Harmatuk says she isn’t surprised there’s only one member of color when Le Moyne is a predominantly white institution.

We aren’t as diverse as they make us out to be, unfortunately,” said Harmatuk. “I’m the only black student in the undergrad Psych/Ed program who’s a senior and have always been one of three black students in all of my psych classes on campus. Maybe they just aren’t in my field, but even then I guarantee I know 95 percent of the black students here by name while I know maybe 15 percent of the white students because the gap is that large.”