UWF in the Hood
The University of West Florida held on Aug. 29 its inaugural “Breakfast with the President” in the gym at Greater Little Rock Baptist Church as part of Dr. Judy Bense’s commitment to increase the university’s imprint in the African-American community.
She asked the room of 60-plus to rethink what they think they know about UWF, while admitting that the university hasn’t done a good job in the past of reaching out to minorities.
“It’s high time we were here,” said Bense. “Our enrollment is 30 percent minority, which is close to what we should be—a reflection of the community, only a better reflection.”
She said, “We’re no longer the University for White Folks.”
As of August 2013, the enrollment at the university is 12,699, of which 10,383 are undergraduates and 2,316 graduate students. Her goal is to increase the enrollment to 14,000 by 2015.
Dr. Kevin Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs, explained that the school’s diversity initiative is based on awareness, acceptance and respect. UWF recently hired Dr. Kim LeDuff as its first chief diversity officer, who was in attendance even though she doesn’t officially start work until this month.
Last year, UWF was rocked when a series of nooses were found on the campus. Dr. Bense pledged to local ministers that she would meet the issues of diversity, racism and respect head on. The Aug. 29 breakfast was another step in that direction.
“The university will be a leader in diversity,” said Dr. Bense. “UWF is about bringing people together from their relatively segregated lives and teaching understanding of and respect for our differences.”
New District 2 Resident
Voters elected this summer insurance agent Mike Hill to fill the term of the late state Rep. Clay Ford. His district includes Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, the city of Gulf Breeze and all of Pensacola’s city limits. There was one catch—Hill lived at Marcus Point, which is outside of District 2.
Our sources tell us that Hill has fixed that problem by leasing a unit at Portofino Island Resort, which does not connect him with most of his constituents but definitely gets him closer to his campaign contributors.
Even with 2010 redistricting, the city of Pensacola is left without a state representative or state senator that lives inside its city limits.
Miller Speaks Out in Lubbock
Congressman Jeff Miller (R-Chumuckla) traveled to Lubbock, Texas to campaign for fellow GOP Rep. Randy Neugebauer. According news reports, Miller and Neugebauer told a breakfast crowd at a Lubbock VFW post that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs reform.
“I truly believe until they change the culture in the VA, they’re not going to change the problems, including the backlog,” said Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. “They’ve gotten everything they’ve asked for in the last 12 years in order to do their job, and yet the backlog of claims has grown.”
Miller also talked about the epidemic of soldiers returning from the Middle East with post-traumatic stress disorder and how the VA needs to respond more quickly to mental health claims and implement suicide-prevention programs.
“We’re not going to save everyone,” he said, “but the ones we can save, shame on us for not doing everything we can.”