The University of Kentucky Medical School (“UK”), and Dr. Frederic C. de Beer as its leader, are facing heightened criticism for the medical school’s alleged discrimination against current and potential black medical students. When Dr. de Beer was hired by UK’s Medical School, UK’s Provost, Michael Karpf said “it was vital to have a leader who could move the college forward in all forefronts and he felt Dr. de Beer demonstrated that he had the qualities and experience needed to help UK achieve its goals.”
Former students and UK alumni have criticized the racism at UK for many years, yet nothing has been done to address their concerns. In fact, numerous requests under the Kentucky Open Records Act have been made for UK to disclose pertinent data to verify the enrollment, retention, and graduate rate for African American students but each request to date, have been denied. UK continues to deny numerous requests submitted and have justified doing such by arguing the low number of black students would make them identifiable; something they claim is prohibited under federal law. However, I do believe there are ways for UK to produce the requested information without it being considered an invasion of personal privacy, which would give us some comfort level that the school is actually doing what’s been reported. Besides, the reason Dr. de Beer was hired by UK was to move the college forward in all forefronts?
(UK spokesman Jay Blanton) told the Lexington Herald-Leader that there were
52 black students enrolled in UK’s medical school from 2004 to 2009. Forty-seven of
them graduated, which is a 90 percent graduation rate”.
Charles Griffith, associate dean of students at the College of Medicine, said the
graduation rate for black medical students has stayed about the same over the past
decade. Griffith said black students made up about 3 to 4 percent of incoming medical
classes; this past year the percentage was 5.3 percent. That is six students out of a class
About 7 percent of Kentucky’s population is black.
“We’re always trying to do better,” said Griffith, citing support programs for
minority students that include intensive monitoring of student grades and peer
tutoring. “Once people get in we want to make sure they succeed.”
As a University primarily funded with taxpayers’ money, it’s inconceivable that UK does not
want to reveal its minority matriculation and retention data. The number reported by UK’s
spokesman Jay Blanton are different from the number known by others. The limited data
available to the general public regarding minority students is rather alarming and points in the
direction of a much bigger and complex problem. Through the limited public records gathered
by Dr. Lachin Haterni, it was discovered that 70% of the black medical students paid out-of-state
tuition of $53,000 per year, one of the highest tuition rates in the nation. A great majority of the
individuals paying this high tuition are either black medical students, recent immigrants from
Africa or black international students. To worsen matters, their out-of-state/international status
effectively exclude them from receiving any state or federal scholarships.
According to Shambra Mulder, the NAACP Education Chair for the state of Kentucky,
The University of Kentucky has a reputation of having low admittance of African
American students. My statistical analysis of the data published on their website from
the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, shows that approximately 3% (344 out of 11,
767) of the students enrolled in the UK College of Medicine from 1999 to 2008 were
African Americans. I can’t find evidence of the graduation/retention rates for African
Americans students. We simply want to know if African American students who were
admitted into the UK College of Medicine are matriculating and graduating.
It is inconceivable that the school has a graduate rate of 90% for African American
given that the graduate rate of African Americans for the entire University is less than
50%. If they had a graduation rate of 90% for African Americans that would be a great
marketing tool for the program! We would love to see the data to support this claim.
For most black students, attending UK is a very expensive proposition. UK has no problem
offering black star athletes scholarships and boasting about the number of black athletes who
have moved on to the professional ranks but when it comes to admitting medical students and/or
producing the documentation to support its recruitment numbers or graduation rate and to dispel
any claims of discrimination, UK continues to shy away. There are a lot of questions being left
unanswered by Dr. de Beer, and one would wonder why. The question remains, how many black
students were admitted and actually graduated from the University of Kentucky Medical School
within the last 4 years? This is a simple question and one according to UK’s chief of Staff, Bill
Swinford, is no one’s business. One may wonder what is meant by Dr. de Beer’s claims to the
local media that UK’s Medical School is doing an outstanding job recruiting minority medical
students, specifically black students, when UK’s Medical School graduates only 1-2 black
students per year who are actually Kentucky residents and another 3-4 black students who are
from outside of the state of Kentucky. Isn’t it fair for the taxpayers to know how many black
students were admitted and actually graduated from the University of Kentucky Medical School?
If the numbers are as good as they claim them to be, this would be an excellent recruitment tool.
Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. The opinions expressed in the commentary are those of Daryl K. Washington. You can reach Daryl at [email protected] or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com.