To the editor:
My journalism colleague Mike Cuenca is correct in urging KU to concentrate on minority hiring and retention (letter of Sept. 22), but wrong in singling out KU Journalism Dean Jimmy Gentry for his alleged failures in that important area.
I have worked in newspaper journalism and journalism education for more than 35 years, and I have never been associated with an administrator who was more committed to recruiting and retaining minorities than our current dean. Under his leadership, the journalism school made diversity its first core value and established a staff position who has as a primary goal the recruitment and retention of minority students.
After a national search, the dean filled one faculty position with a direct hire of a minority. He kept the associate dean position in our school vacant for nearly two years (at great personal cost) only because he had made an offer to an outstanding African-American administrator in Florida who later decided she would instead accept an attractive promotion at her current university.
Cuenca also has his numbers wrong. He states that the school had five minority faculty and staff when the dean arrived in 1997 and only three today. In fact, the school had four minorities in 1997 and has five today (despite one retirement). Instead of touting a 25 percent increase, Dean Gentry insists that our school must do better.
Finally, when Professor Cuenca pointed out that the dean is "being sued in federal court for discrimination and retaliation," he neglected to point out that he (Cuenca) filed the lawsuit. Nor did Professor Cuenca reveal that he has asked the judge to dismiss his lawsuit, perhaps because he is unable to find an attorney to take a case that is completely without merit.
KU School of Journalism.