MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Memphis named Dr. Bill Hardgrave as its new president on Tuesday. This hiring has left some community leaders upset because they feel a person of color should have been selected.

As he prepares to assume his duties, concerns about diversity are lingering, after no finalists were black.

While this appointment is being celebrated by University of Memphis officials, two organizations have sent a letter to the board of trustees to figure out how Dr. Hardgrave plans on making diversity a priority.

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners Black Caucus and Memphis Branch of the NAACP issued a letter expressing their issues with his hire. 

Hardgrave comes to the university of Memphis from Auburn University. His former institution had less than 5% black students, compared to Memphis which has nearly 40%.

At his introductory press conference, Hardgrave was unable to provide specifics about how to make diversity a priority but did vow to meet with community members to better understand issues affecting the university.

“I can’t answer how we harness that at this point that’s part of me coming in understanding the situation that we have here, working with our faculty, our staff, our students, the business community to understand how we take advantage of that,” he said.

For Shelby County Commissioner, Tami Sawyer, that answer is not good enough. 

“I’m concerned that the process didn’t reflect the diversity and identity of the broader Memphis community as well as that of the campus,” Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said. “To select a president of the university and a community that’s 70% people of color and he not be able to answer what diversity initiatives he would like to overtake and he not be able to answer what it looks like to have a commitment to the broader Memphis community, that to me sounds like a process that was not focused on the right things.”

In the letter sent to the board of Trustees, the two groups gave officials ten days to respond to their inquiries about diversity. As of Wednesday, they haven’t heard back from them.

Dr. Hardgrave is officially expected to start in the spring.