The director of the University of Maryland's office of minority student education, J. Muruku Waiguchu, resigned last week, charging that university officials have failed to support his programs.
Waiguchu's resignation came at the end of a week of racial controversy at College Park sparked by an overhaul of the university program to recruit more black students.
"Somebody has to call the university administration to account. They do not know how to deal with minorities. They decide what is good for minorities and they do it," said Waiguchu, who said he will leave June 30. University officials denied the charge.
Announcing his resignation at a press conference, Waiguchu said that 341 black freshmen enrolled at the university in the fall of 1974, but only 89 graduated five years later.
"We have been given no support, moral administrative, or financial," charged Waiguchu.
Among the reasons for the high attrition rate among black students, according to university officials, is the fact that many come from poorer high schools, have weaker academic records and have financial problems.
Earlier in the week, College Park chancellor Robert L. Gluckstern had approved a recommendation that the office responsible for minority recruitment be dismantled as a separate unit and merged with the undergraduate admissions office.
Gluckstern described the move as an effort to increase minority student enrollment, but it was promptly denounced by black groups on campus as being insensitive to the wishes of minorities.
"We think it's a bad move on the part of the administration," said the Rev. Perry A. Smith, president of the Black Faculty and Staff Association at the university. "I don't believe the plan will move us in the direction we ought to be moving."
"The chancellor's decision goes against the facts that have been presented to him, and it goes against the wishes of blacks both on and off campus," said Kenneth Morgan, the former head of the office for minority recruitment.
Gluckstern, however, defended the move as "a forward step in terms of our efforts to recruit black students."
"Although there is no consensus as to the best approach, the general feeling is that our minority efforts must be built more strongly into our overall student recruitment programs," said Gluckstern.
For the last decade, officials at College Park have set minority enrollment goals of 13 to 16 percent, the approximate percentage of minorities graduating from the state's high schools.
But the university has never come close to meeting the goals, and for the last three years minority enrollment at College Park has peaked at between 7.8 and 8.1 percent.
"It is precisely because things weren't working out that we made this change," said Gluckstern in announcing creation of the position of associate director for recruitment and special programs within the undergraduate admissions office.
Gluckstern acted on a recommendation from the vice chancellor Nancie l. Gonzalez who argued that "our desegregation efforts must be built more strongly into our overall student recruitment programs."
But he acted against recommendations of the Black Faculty and Staff Association which argued that while responsibility for minority recruitment should rest with the entire university community, the job could be done more effectively with a separate office to direct such activities.
Smith said surveys taken by the association showed that universities that do have a separate office for minority recruitment are, in fact, able to recruit more minorities.
Discussing Waiguchu's resignation, Gluckstern said "he has contributed many good ideas and we're sorry to see him go."
Retention of minority students, which is one of the responsibilities of the office of minority education, "is an area where things haven't worked out as well as he (Waiguchu) would have hoped or we would have hoped," said Gluckstern.
Waiguchu said he will return to a teaching job at William Patterson College in New Jersey. Two years ago he took a leave of absence from that job to become director of minority student education at Maryland.
His predecessor in that job, Andrew Goodrich, was fired in what Goodrich contended was a racially motivated action. While denying racial motives, university officials have declined to discuss reasons for Goodrich's dismissal.