To the Editor,
As grandson of UNCP founding trustee Preston Locklear, I went directly to the written text of Chancellor Kyle Carter’s Oct. 17 address to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina to review what Carter had said.
Carter speaks frankly about raised UNC system wide standards for admissions and retention. As “nearly half of all American Indians in college in North Carolina attend UNCP,” Carter is particularly concerned about high school readiness of Robeson County’s American Indian population. While Carter did not create the issue, he is forced to deal with the fact that, for instance, “half of the students graduating from Purnell Swett who took the SAT scored below the minimum UNC admissions requirement.”
UNCP enrollment, including American Indians, experienced “a big drop … in 2011 when we lost approximately 10 percent of our total enrollment … brought on by the economy and by the loss of financial aid.”
UNCP layoffs, impacting all races, have also been in response to budget shortfalls. Others leaving UNCP presumably have exited with cause, including those leaving on their own accord.
Carter is strengthening Lumbee presence among students, faculty, staff and administration. This is a qualitative effort, not a body count exercise.
Carter has created the program for Southeastern American Indian Studies and wishes to distinguish this as a separate UNCP school. He has identified Lumbee campus leaders and rewarded their capacity.
Nationally American Indian students “who pursued advanced degrees go into law, medicine or dentistry.” Carter is working toward funding American Indian students pursuing doctoral degrees to “grow our own program” of American Indian doctoral faculty. UNCP has “currently raised more than 50 percent of our goal to establish an endowed professorship in American Indian Studies.”
Carter has embraced past, present and future Lumbee involvement at UNCP. Our Lumbee Ambassadors are distinguished at campus ceremonies. Invitations to our tribe and our community have been extended and engaged to strengthen Lumbee legacy.
Grandpa Preston made American Indian education in Robeson County strong and successful. Today it takes all stakeholders from elementary thru post-secondary education to strive to continue such. I think Grandpa Preston would be pleased with me and other Lumbee tribal members supporting the efforts of Chancellor Carter and not moving the target to him when the issue is not created by him.
Eric R. Locklear