In Education

University Leader Issues Apology After Blaming Enrollment Decline On ‘Diverse’ Campus

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The vice chairman of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents issued an apology after he made public comments asking if one of their universities had become “too diverse,” causing its enrollment to decline.

At an Oct. 13 public board meeting, Steve Sviggum said he had received letters from friends who had children who “didn’t feel comfortable” at the University of Minnesota-Morris because it is “too diverse,” according to KSTP News. Sviggum apologized on Tuesday for the “unintended hurt” his comments may have caused, saying he meant to “foster discussion around the consistently declining enrollment” at the university. 

“I offer my sincerest apologies,” Sviggum wrote. “I clearly have more to learn to better understand the strength that diversity brings to our institution, and I look forward to taking those who have reached out to me up on their offers to meet and to hear their perspectives and learn from them. I am willing to learn and I must do better — and I will.”

Sviggum noted that the school’s enrollment is “down 50% from its peak,” a concern well before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2022-2023 school year, the college has just more than 1,000 students enrolled, with 41% of the students being black, indigenous and people of color, according to the Associated Press.

Ken Powell, board of regents chair, issued an apology on Wednesday to staff and students at Morris regarding Sviggum’s statements and reinforced that the college is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I am committing today to provide DEI training to the entire Board of Regents that will help us more fully understand and reaffirm the power that different perspectives bring to our shared success,” Powell wrote. “Diversity is not a challenge, it is a strength that makes our institution—and Morris—one of the most highly regarded universities in the country.”

Sviggum said he is open to meeting with those who have voiced their concerns over his statements as an opportunity to learn and “do better.”

“For those whom I have harmed or offended, and for all of those associated with our great university, I am truly sorry,” Sviggum said. “I have only respect and admiration for any individual who seeks to better themselves through higher education, whether at Morris or at any of our wonderful campuses. Minnesota benefits from our many amazing  students from all walks of life who make incredible contributions to our community, and their work strengthens the great state of Minnesota.”

Sviggum did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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