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Report: Virginia Universities Drowning in DEI Policies

Report: Virginia Universities Drowning in DEI Policies

“Which state’s public universities have the largest diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies? It is not a deep-blue state, like California or Oregon. It is the decidedly purple state of Virginia.”

When Republican Glenn Youngkin took on the role of Governor of Virginia, conservatives around the country breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that some of the woke policies in education there could be changed.

But you must remember that when it comes to education, and especially higher ed, the left has had a decades-long head start in shaping and controlling these institutions.

Tyler O’Neil writes at the Daily Signal:

The Left’s Priesthood: How DEI Offices Weaponize Virginia Universities

Those of us who work in the capital city I refer to as “Mordor” have slim pickings on where to live, and I chose Virginia, which I consider to be the most conservative option. Little did I know, the Old Dominion ranks first in the nation for applying the Left’s most effective tool in weaponizing public universities: offices purporting to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These DEI offices are the bureaucracy of the bureaucracy. They exist to push leftist ideology throughout the institution, hounding school administrators, staff, and professors to toe the line on “anti-racism” and gender ideology.

They represent a new priesthood pushing leftist dogma within noble institutions once dedicated to higher learning but increasingly acting as ideological factories that produce “woke” activists.

While corporate America has begun excising the DEI cancer, it has taken root and flourished in academia…

A Heritage Foundation report measured the size of DEI bureaucracies at the 65 universities that in 2021 were members of one of the Power 5 athletic conferences (the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the Southeastern Conference, and the Atlantic Coast Conference), finding that the average university listed more than 45 people as having formal responsibility for promoting DEI goals. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)

The Heritage Foundation report is extensive:

The Dangerous DEI Bloat at Virginia’s Public Universities

Which state’s public universities have the largest diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies? It is not a deep-blue state, like California or Oregon. It is the decidedly purple state of Virginia.

When Heritage Foundation analysts measured the size of DEI bureaucracies in the 65 universities that were members of one of the Power 5 athletic conferences (the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the Southeastern Conference, and the Atlantic Coast Conference) in 2021, they discovered that Virginia led the nation as the state with the biggest DEI bureaucracies in its public universities…

The University of Virginia (UVA) listed 94 people on university websites as part of its DEI bureaucracy…

DEI personnel include all people listed as staff or interns on the university websites for units ostensibly designed to advocate for and serve racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual-orientation groups on campus. These entities go by various names, but they tend to include the words diversity, equity, inclusion, multicultural and/or the identity of a group in the title. Staff involved in legally required activities, such as ensuring compliance with civil rights legislation, were not counted in the DEI personnel totals. Similarly, academic units that offered classes and degrees, such as African American or gender studies departments were also not counted as DEI personnel. The DEI staff are best understood as administrative units on campus that articulate and enforce orthodox views on matters related to race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Two years ago, UVA had 1,454 tenured or tenure-track faculty, giving it a ratio of 6.5 DEI personnel for every 100 faculty members. Only the University of Michigan had more DEI personnel, with 163, but Michigan lagged UVA in the size of its DEI bureaucracy relative to the number of faculty, with a ratio of 5.8. Virginia Tech was not far behind UVA in DEI bloat. Virginia Tech had 83 DEI personnel and 5.6 DEI staff for every 100 faculty.

To paint a more complete picture of public universities in Virginia, the authors of this Backgrounder also collected information on the size of the DEI bureaucracy at George Mason University (GMU). GMU has at least 69 DEI personnel, which, given that it has 938 tenured or tenure-track faculty, yields a ratio of 7.4 DEI staff per 100 faculty. Only Syracuse University, a private institution, matched GMU’s ratio of 7.4 DEI per 100 faculty.

When adding GMU to the set of data from the 65 Power 5 universities collected in 2021, the Commonwealth of Virginia has three of the top six spots among public universities for DEI size relative to faculty. GMU has the highest DEI ratio, followed by UVA, with Virginia Tech coming in sixth. No other state has more than one public university in the top six. See Chart 1. The average ratio of these three Virginia public universities is 6.5 DEI staff per 100 faculty, which is higher than any single public university outside Virginia.

The list of diversity related job titles will blow your mind.

Read the whole thing.


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Tell the universities to keep going with this. All the way to the deep end of the pool.

    Ghostrider in reply to Whitewall. | September 25, 2023 at 9:18 am

    Look no further than Boston University and its recently announced DEI scandal. Also, where the rubber meets the road, West Virginia University citing a $40 million budget shortfall has voted to cut the entire Humanities Department.

    Earlier this year, four of the current 14 Big Ten universities, long among higher education’s most well-resourced and influential public institutions, reported large budget deficits. Rutgers University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Nebraska all acknowledged the need for substantial resets, ranging from between $10-20 million at Minnesota and Nebraska
    to more than $100 million at Rutgers and Penn State.

The problem with pandering on an intersectionalty ladder is the ranking constantly change. It’s hard to make sure in days to come you make the right choice picking winners and losers. Merit would be so much easier.

As I’ve mentioned before, anything that VT does GMU will try to one-up them on. The two are in a very bizarre pissing contest.

Unfortunately, DEI has infiltrated deeply into red state universities as well. Some where you would least expect it, such as Tallahassee, Fl.

Florida State University has adopted a series of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs that divides Americans along a “matrix of oppression,” castigates Christians for their “Christian privilege,” and offers a racially segregated scholarship that deliberately bars White students from applying.

Officially, Florida State officials have claimed in a recent report to Gov. Ron DeSantis that they support 23 separate DEI programs and initiatives. But beneath the surface, the ideology has embedded itself everywhere in the university.

The headcount is really not relevant. The key measure is the number of bureaucratic hoops that students and faculty must jump through. There is an impact upon faculty hiring, course syllabus design, student activities, and campus conduct regulation. The creative spark and independent thinking on the campus is being smothered. by every effort of every day of almost every one of these employees.

A Punk Named Yunk | September 26, 2023 at 1:09 pm

Start of a possible solution:
Cut ALL state aid to DEI-entrenched universities cold turkey. (Am I being speciesist? Pound sand. Whatever that means.) To cover that loss of revenue, they will reflexively cut all really useful, relevant courses, like STEM and business. (Writing, history, and law are very important as well but those programs are already heavily into DEI, sadly.) When they lose their students to non-DEI institutions and trade schools, let’em go broke.

Oh, subsidize the trade schools, as long as they are avoiding DEI. We need automechanics, plumbers, carpenters, builders etc. We won’t miss the blue-haired Women’s Studies graduates.

My daughter is psychologist in GMU counseling center. GMU President Washington sent the following letter to staff and students:

Dear fellow Patriots:

Last week I reached out to you about a report issued by The Heritage Foundation accusing Virginia, and in particular George Mason University, of “dangerous DEI bloat,” by employing excessive staff and budgets to promote “radical ideologies.” Since then a number of us have looked more closely at the claims, and have confirmed our initial doubts about the basic accuracy, and therefore validity, of the report. This is a great university, filled with inspiring students, faculty, and staff – we deserve better. And I have reached out to The Heritage Foundation with precisely that message, plus an invitation.

Problematic report

Our doubts about the report lie in three main areas:

Indexing DEI staff to tenured/tenure-track faculty only – The most problematic part of the report is that Heritage would compare DEI staff to one type of instructor – tenured and tenure/track faculty – excluding our term faculty, which number roughly half of our instructors. That course correction alone would cut their ratio of DEI staff to faculty in half, but even that would not explain why Heritage did not compare DEI staff to student populations, whom our DEI mission exists to serve. Any comparison of DEI staff to anyone but students makes no sense, other than to fabricate a result that cannot be produced in any other way. Even if we had 100 DEI staff when compared to the more than 40,000 students we serve (a majority of whom are people of color). Factually speaking, we actually serve more students with fewer staff than the other Virginia peers listed in the study, and our DEI mission includes far more students in addition to those of color and of the LGBTQ+ community.

Number of DEI staff at Mason – The report grossly overstates the number of DEI staff at 69, and the researcher, Jay Greene, finally tweeted the 69 titles on Monday evening, following our call for some semblance of transparency. We have reviewed those titles and confirmed that, after eliminating outdated positions, double-counted positions, faculty positions that the report said would not be not counted, and an overwhelming number of part-time student positions, the number of DEI staff at this university of 40,000 students sits at less than a third of their claims, as we said last week.

Focus on Power 5 athletic conference schools … and Mason – The decision to focus on Power 5 athletic conference schools is a bizarre shortcut, particularly, when Heritage then extrapolates the results of their claims across all of higher education. And even given their choice of targets, the obvious must be stated: George Mason University belongs to the Atlantic 10 Conference, which is not among the Power 5. The report suggests that Mason was added for “a more complete picture of Virginia,” but Heritage only looked at three of Virginia’s 69 SCHEV-accredited colleges and universities, excluding 12 of 15 public universities and all community colleges and private universities.

There is always room for serious discussion on how best to make a university open, welcoming, and productive for all citizens, but unfortunately this report – sloppy, methodologically questionable, and simply inaccurate as it is – not only falls short of something we can take seriously, it does damage to our capacity to have such a serious conversation. Quite frankly, it also damages Heritage’s reputation for providing accurate and useful information.

Out of our nearly 5,000 full-time equivalent employees, Heritage has targeted around 20, calling on them to be fired, using inflammatory rhetoric by calling their very existence “dangerous” and “wasteful,” and accusing all of them – right down to the Office Assistant and IT Associate – of pushing “radical ideologies.”

This university deserves better. It deserves a serious conversation. I have invited The Heritage Foundation to campus, either to explain this report more completely, or to take the opportunity to set it aside in favor of a reset conversation about how Mason lives its credo of being an institution of freedom and learning for Virginia and beyond.

If Heritage Foundation researchers and leaders are willing to sit with us and open a dialogue, we will be more than happy to receive them at our Fairfax Campus, offer them an orientation to our operations, and begin a serious dialogue about this report and the larger issues that underlie it.

Fellow Patriots, we have so much to be proud for what we accomplish together every day here as one of America’s top 50 public universities, and a leader in inclusivity, innovation, and social mobility. Our commitment to maintain an ethos of comprehensive inclusivity is both what has made us great, and proven to be difficult to maintain at times like this. It calls us to welcome everyone across all ideologies and walks of life – even, occasionally, those who do not understand us and may wish us reputational harm in pursuit of their own causes.

Thank you for all you do.


Gregory Washington