Air Force Academy short of minority recruiting goal
COLORADO SPRINGS – The Air Force Academy will miss goals for admitting blacks and Hispanics for the class of 2011 despite an emphasis on minority recruiting, Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni said.Regni told the academy’s Board of Visitors on Friday that the school could face new challenges in recruiting minorities. The Defense Department wants to strip military academies of their ability to favor minorities recruits in granting waivers to academic entrance requirements, he said.He also warned that a recent audit will recommend slashing 100, or about half, of the slots from the Air Force Academy’s Preparatory School. The prep school, which enrolls a mix of former enlisted airmen and high school recruits, includes many minorities and athletes who need help meeting the academic rigors of the academy.About 240 prep school students go through an 11-month program each year, with about four out of five earning academy appointments.Regni said it is crucial the academy keep its full enrollment at the prep school for borderline candidates.Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said minority members of Congress, whose members can nominate people to open slots at the academy, haven’t been predisposed to help.”They are not influencing qualified candidates they know of to attend military academies,” Wynne said during the board’s meeting. “We are seeking to get them to see military academies as really good educational opportunities.”Regni said his staff has worked hard to recruit minorities, including children from minority military families.Still, he expected the incoming class of 1,300 to be roughly the same as the academy’s current enrollment. About 4 percent of the 4,000 cadets at the academy are black. About 2 percent are American Indian, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 9 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. About 18 percent of the cadets are women.The incoming class, based on commitments received as of Friday, will include about 1,060 cadets directly out of high school, and fewer than 30 will be black, Regni said.Regni expected to add 40 or 50 more cadets by admitting blacks from the prep school.Regni said that of the 9,200 initial applicants for the incoming class, 920 were black high school seniors. About 700 of them completed the application process. Academic deficiencies knocked out 500. After the final cut, only a few dozen remained.Regni said the academy is competing with every major university for those students.The Board of Visitors told Regni last year to make diversity recruitment a strategic planning priority.”We need to do more,” chairman Charles Garcia said. —Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com
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