MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's Note: The video originally aired on Breaking the News on Oct. 17, 2022.
A regent for the University of Minnesota issued an apology for his comments about the university's Morris campus being "too diverse."
In a statement provided by the school Tuesday evening, University of Minnesota Board of Regents Vice Chair Steve Sviggum said, "Let me unequivocally apologize for my questions, and especially for the unintended hurt my questions may have caused."
"They were not intended to cause harm, but my intent does not matter. For those whom I have harmed or offended, and for all of those associated with our great university, I am truly sorry," he went on to say.
Sviggum in his statement explained that the intent of his statements was to bring up the Morris campus' declining enrollment.
In a phone interview with KARE 11's Jana Shortal on Monday, Sviggum apologized for his comments, saying they weren't meant to be racist and he's sorry to those who took them to be.
"It was certainly not meant as racist. If they took it as racist, I apologize. I would apologize to them; in person to them — not how it was meant, and not certainly the thrust of all the other questions as well," he said Monday.
Read Sviggum's full statement below:
Last week, during University of Minnesota Morris Interim Chancellor Ericksen’s presentation on MPact 2025 enrollment goals at Morris, I posed a question regarding the diversity of the student body and whether that diversity was—in any way—linked to the recent enrollment challenges.
Let me unequivocally apologize for my questions, and especially for the unintended hurt my questions may have caused. They were not intended to cause harm, but my intent does not matter. For those whom I have harmed or offended, and for all of those associated with our great university, I am truly sorry. I have only respect and admiration for any individual who seeks to better themselves through higher education, whether at Morris or at any of our wonderful campuses. Minnesota benefits from our many amazing students from all walks of life who make incredible contributions to our community, and their work strengthens the great state of Minnesota. I hope that all of our graduates elect to stay in Minnesota after graduation and work, every day, for the betterment of our state.
My intent – recognizing that my words matter – was to foster discussion around the consistently declining enrollment at Morris, which is not a one-year trend or even a concern that has emerged out of the COVID pandemic. Rather, student enrollment has been declining for years (down 50% from its peak) and the future of this great campus depends on finding solutions to reverse that trend.
I have been blessed throughout my life as a farmer to work with a diversity of people across our state and our nation from all backgrounds. As a layperson in my church, I have shared the joys and heartbreaks of so many of my fellow parishioners. And as a proud Regent, I have been given the incredible opportunity to help our institution, our president, and our students, staff, and faculty who set a very high bar for the rest of us.
Again, I offer my sincerest apologies. I clearly have more to learn to better understand the strength that diversity brings to our institution, and I look forward to taking those who have reached out to me up on their offers to meet and to hear their perspectives and learn from them. I am willing to learn and I must do better—and I will.
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