Rutgers University

Wed, 1 Feb 1995 18:31:02 EST

>From an article which appeared in Wednesday's Philadelphia Daily News:

Rutgers' prez apologizes over 'troubling comment'

Said blacks are genetically inferior
by Donna Murphy Weston

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - The president of Rutgers university said yesterday
he never meant to say that disadvantaged students did not have the "genetic
hereditary background" to score well on standardized tests.
"In spite of the fact that I did use those words, they are opposed to my
beliefs," Francis L. Lawrence said at a news conference. "I regret it, I do
regret it, I certainly regret those comments."
Gov. Christie Whitman urged the university's board of Governors to hold a
special session as soon as possible to allow Lawrence to explain his comment.
"It's entirely out of character for the president as I know him and the
way he has conducted himself as president of the university," said Whitman, who
was in Washington and who said she had not spoken with Lawrence. "It's an
extraordinarily troubling comment, and it cannot stand without having it
The student government associations of two of the university's colleges,
Rutgers and Douglass, called for Lawrence to resign, as did the state chapter
of the NAACP.
"Given the volatile nature of race relations in the state of New Jersey, we
cannot afford to have the future of our state --our young people --placed in
the hands of an individual who devalues their very presence," the NAACP said
in a statement.
But the chairman of the Rutgers board of Governors, Carlton Holstrom,
defended Lawrence for his record of commitment to admitting and graduating
minority students and to hiring and promoting minority faculty.
"If actions speak louder than words, his actions virtually shout the words,"
Holstrom said.
Lawrence made the comment during a Nov. 11 talk to about 30 faculty members
at the state university's Camden campus. A tape recording of the speech was
distributed by the faculty union, and the remarks were first reported
yesterday in The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Describing his views on the use of exams like the Scholastic Assessment
Tests to assess student performance, Lawrence said:
"Let's look at the SATs [Scholastic Assessment Tests]. The average SAT
for African-Americans is 750. Do we set the standards in the future so that
we don't admit anybody with the national test? Or do we deal with a
disadvantaged population the doesn't have that genetic hereditary background
to have a higher average?"