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Tennessee Universities Defend Diversity Programs

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College presidents in Tennessee are defending their programs meant to diversify their student bodies. They worry about an effort to outlaw any preferences on the basis of race or gender.

Universities are already barred by federal law from giving minorities a leg up in the admittance or hiring process. But there are efforts to attract certain under-represented groups.

Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan says a summer program is meant to make sure black males stick with their college plans after high school graduation.

“I don’t know whether it is a preference or not," he says. "But I do know that is a group that struggles.”

The legislation comes from activist Ward Connerly, who is African American. He is a former university board member in California, where he helped pass a constitutional amendment intended to keep minorities from getting special preference.

After two hours of discussion, the Senate Education Committee put the bill off for a week.

Copyright 2013 WPLN. To see more, visit http://www.wpln.org/

Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.
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