October 24, 2013
Kyle Carter, the chancellor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, is being accused by a small but noisy bunch of being dismissive of the Lumbee people during a presentation he made before the Lumbee Tribal Council last week.
Critics, including the author of a letter in yesterday’s The Robesonian, complain that he didn’t arrive early enough, left too hastily, and didn’t answer enough questions.
This newspaper covered the 25-minute presentation, which was comprehensive — and anything but dismissive. His power-point presentation, a copy of which we were provided, was about 3,500 words. It also included a slideshow with 20 elements.
We can’t in this limited space adequately provide even the cliff notes of the presentation, but the entire transcript can be found at robesonian.com at http://www.robesonian.com/news/opinion-opinion_columns/2716778/UNCP-Chancellor-Kyle-Carters-presentation-to-Lumbee-Tribal-Council.
We can tell you that it was an invitation to work with UNCP for the betterment of the university and the local American Indian population, and it also included facts on what critics seem stuck on, and understandably so — the number of American Indians working at the university, and the number getting an education there.
According to Carter, 32 percent of the faculty, staff and administrators at UNCP self identify as Lumbee. Not bad.
But Carter was frank, calling the number of faculty who are Lumbee, just 22 out of 300, a “significant weakness.” He explained the challenges there.
“Annually, fewer than 150 American Indians earn doctorates in all fields of study in the United States — and there are more than 2,750 universities across the country competing for them,” he said.
Carter said that the number of American Indian students at UNCP has hovered between 1,000 and 1,100 for the last decade, with a noticeable drop in 2011 that he blamed on the economy. He pointed out what cannot be denied but some refuse to hear: Only about 40 percent of American Indians who graduate from Robeson County high schools attend college; of the remaining 60 percent, some don’t have the grades, some don’t have the financial resources, and some don’t have the desire.
He touched briefly on a local collaboration between the university and the Public Schools of Robeson County to grow the number of local American Indians enrolled at UNCP.
Anyone who reads the entire text of the presentation would understand that Carter was reaching out to the tribe, that he is fully aware of the university’s unique ties to the Lumbee people, that he has worked to make sure it has been honored in the past, and is looking for new opportunities to do so in the future.
We can’t end this without a footnote.
When Carter spoke before the Tribal Council, fewer than half of its members, 10 of 21, were in the audience, not even enough for the quorum that is needed to do business. Carter didn’t drop in unexpectedly, and that fewer than half the council bothered to hear what the UNC chancellor had to say is worrisome.
If anyone was dismissed, it was the chancellor.