Published Online: September 3, 1997

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Under fire

Two prominent Republican senators are demanding that the Department of Education end its "politically motivated" probe of graduate school admissions at the University of California.

The university's board of regents voted in 1995 to no longer consider race as a factor in admissions. The university is phasing in the mandate, first with graduate school admissions this academic year and with undergraduate admissions in 1998-99. The mandate is already having an impact on some graduate schools. This year, minority enrollment is down at the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, and the incoming class includes only one black student. Fifteen black students declined admission to the school.

In a recent letter to Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sharply criticized Norma V. Cantu. Ms. Cantu oversees the Education Department's office for civil rights, which is probing the university's admissions policies after receiving complaints from civil rights groups.

Sens. Hatch and McConnell threatened to hold hearings and to sponsor an amendment to bar the use of federal funds to investigate race-neutral policies if Mr. Riley did not provide a satisfactory legal analysis of the department's policy.

Ms. Cantu has not responded, said Rodger Murphey, a spokesman for the OCR.

Back in town

Former Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., has joined the Widmeyer-Baker Group, a public relations firm that specializes in education issues. Mr. Williams retired from Congress in 1996 after 18 years on Capitol Hill.

Pat Williams

Mr. Williams will work with a variety of the group's clients, which include the College Board, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Science Foundation, and Scholastic Inc.

"We believe that Pat can offer invaluable advice to our clients on how to get their message out in Washington and beyond," said Senior Vice President Rodney Ferguson.

The recent hire does not signal a desire on the part of the company to venture into lobbying, he added.

--JOETTA L. SACK

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