The Virginia NAACP is demanding that Virginia Commonwealth “diversify” its all-White cabinet with “all due speed.”
In a press release faxed to the Free Press on Tuesday evening, King Salim Khalfani, state NAACP executive director, stated: “After exposure of its lily-White cabinet in the Richmond Free Press and the weak response by Rector Thomas G. Rosenthal, the NAACP is compelled to communicate its demands directly to the university.”
Khalfani’s statement came in response to a Free Press editorial that informed that VCU President Eugene P. Trani’s top administrative staff of eight vice presidents and 10 deans is all White. The editorial was critical of the state-supported university’s non-inclusive makeup.
In a Free Press news story last week, Rosenthal, speaking for the board, defended the board’s composition. He described VCU’s Whites-only leadership as “an excellent team.” In defending the lack of diversity at the top, Rosenthal also recalled the presence of a handful of Black people who have held top positions at VCU during its history.
In the press release, Khalfani also observed that “VCU has done a better job” in awarding contracts to Black businesses, but that diversity commitment apparently isn’t extended to Trani’s cabinet.
“VCU has a great opportunity to be a trendsetter and right this wrong,” Khalfani stated.
He also called on the VCU board, Dr. Trani and Gov. Tim Kaine to be “counted” and “make a difference on the side of an ethnically diverse cabinet.”
However, Gov. Kaine, who appoints the VCU board, last week took a hands-off position on the all-Whites issue at VCU.
“The governor does not intervene in the actions of the boards (he appoints),” Gordon Hickey, the governor’s press secretary, said after consulting with Kaine. “He puts good people in positions and expects them to do a good job.”
Hickey, a former reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, also indicated that Gov. Kaine is pleased with Trani’s performance. He said Trani “has a long, established record of diversity in hiring and contracting” with Black people.
Bill Farrar contributed to this article.