Politics & Government

Study: White men dominate South's university boards

Looking for a lawyer?

Forget the Yellow Pages. Check out the University of South Carolina's board of trustees.

That board is dominated by white men, particularly while male lawyers, according to a study conducted by a USC graduate student.

That study found USC's trustees do not reflect the gender or racial diversity of the university or the state.

"I saw something about USC's board, and I thought, 'Wow, these are all white guys,'" said Mark Meehan, a 44-year-old doctoral candidate in USC's College of Education, whose study compared the boards that oversee USC, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. "It struck me as very disproportionate, and I decided to look into it."

Meehan's study found that none of the three boards that he looked at come close to reflecting the diversity of their universities.

For example, women and minorities account for 56 percent and 25 percent of USC's students, respectively, but only 9 percent and 5 percent of its board, Meehan's study found.

That is important because boards decide a university's leadership and budget, and approve changes in its academics, including adding or dropping majors that may attract or dissuade female or minority applicants and students.

Meehan's study found, compared with the University of Florida's board of governors, the boards overseeing USC and the University of Georgia were much less representative of the students at those universities and less representative than the states where they are located.

"It would seem that the political environment in Florida is more expectant of racial representation," Meehan wrote.

USC's board has a higher percentage of white men and white male lawyers than the boards that oversee the University of Georgia and the University of Florida, according to Meehan's study.

Lawyers — who account for half of USC's board — account for 31 percent of the members of the University of Florida's governors, Meehan found. One of those lawyers is a black female; another is a Latino male. Overall, the board is 82 percent white and 82 percent male.

White students make up 66 percent of the University of Florida's enrollment. Male students make up 46 percent of those enrolled there.

Lawyers account for 31 percent of those who serve on the University of Georgia's board of regents, Meehan found. White members and men each make up 89 percent of that board.

White students account for 76 percent of those enrolled at the University of Georgia. Male students account for 46 percent of those enrolled there.

Read more of this story at TheState.com