Univ. of Wisconsin Diversity Officer At Center Of Admissions Maelstrom

Monday, October 3, 2011

Talk show host Bill O'Reilly called him "a loon." The head of a conservative think tank said he fed students propaganda and egged on a student "mob."

The comments were directed at UW-Madison's chief diversity officer, Damon Williams, who has been at the center of an admissions maelstrom ever since the Virginia-based Center for Equal Opportunity alleged in a report this month that the university gives preferential treatment to black and Hispanic students.

Learning a day early that the center planned to release its findings at a Madison news conference, Williams and Dean of Students Lori Berquam convened a meeting of students to discuss "a threat to our diversity efforts." The next day, a group of students disrupted the news conference, forcing the center's president and a former UW-Madison professor to leave the room.

The students' actions prompted national media attention and sparked widespread debate on campus, including whether Williams and other officials handled the matter appropriately. He says he did.

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