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AFA gets an extra $1 million to tackle diversity issues

By: TOM ROEDER
July 15, 2011
0

The Air Force Academy has a plan and a $1 million budget to make the school more diverse, but no numerical goal that describes what diverse looks like.

Adding more cadets from minorities groups to the academy’s population has been a goal for years. The Board of Visitors, the school’s oversight body, was told Friday that the school has a new plan, which includes diversity training for employees, stepping up minority recruitment and training “inclusion ambassadors” who will promote diversity at the academy.

“The good thing is we’re doing something about it,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, academy superintendent.

The academy’s student body is 71 percent white, which is similar to its sister academies for Navy and Army, and close to the national population average.

But the academy wants to see gains in the number of black and Hispanic cadets on the campus, who make up a combined 16 percent of the student body, well below their share of the national population.

But the Air Force is staying away from quotas.

“Metrics have always been a tough thing for all the services,” Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, an Air Force personnel officer from the Pentagon told the board, which advises Congress and President Obama on academy matters.

The Air Force put money into the academy program this year, adding $1 million to the program in 2011 – doubling the academy’s diversity budget. Much of the cash is being spent on recruiting in black, Hispanic and Asian neighborhoods. The idea is that attracting more minority applicants will gradually grow the academy’s minority population.

Still, some board members fear that the program lacks clear goals because it doesn’t set racial quotas.

“Not having those objectives and goals is hurting us,” said board member Alfredo Sandoval, a 1982 academy graduate who is a managing partner of the Private Investment Group.

Jones said numbers alone, though, won’t do the job.

“The goal is to have a diverse population find success in the military,” he said.

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