Diversity bloat: Many major universities have more diversity staff than history professors

The Heritage Foundation published a report yesterday which looks at the size of diversity, equity and inclusion staffing at 65 major universities around the country. The selection of schools wasn’t random. Instead, Heritage looked at Power Five universities, i.e. schools that are part of major athletic conferences such as the PAC 12. The point of selecting these universities was to select major, mainstream schools rather than smaller or more exclusive ones.

Using web searches for various DEI terms, Heritage assembled a list of the staff devoted to this purpose at each university. The report does not include volunteer positions or professors associated with DEI such as gender studies. This is intended solely as a look at paid DEI staff and administrators. What they found was that the average university had 45 staff members dedicated to this. In most cases that was more than the number of history professors employed at the same university.

The average university has 45.1 people tasked with promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some universities have many more. For example, the University of Michigan has 163 DEI personnel. Nineteen of those people work in a central office of DEI, headed by a Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer, who is subsequently supported by three people with the title Assistant Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion & Academic Affairs…

The University of Virginia and Ohio State University also have large DEI infrastructures, each with 94 people. The Universities of California at Berkeley and Virginia Tech follow, with 86 and 83 DEI personnel, respectively. Stanford University has 80 DEI staff, while the University of Illinois and the University of Maryland each have 71. Syracuse University and the University of Colorado at Boulder round out the top ten with 65 and 62 DEI personnel, respectively…

The average institution examined lists 1.4 times as many DEI personnel as tenured or tenure-track history professors.

  • Georgia Tech: 3.2 people promoting DEI goals for every history professor.
  • University of Louisville: 2.9.
  • Syracuse University, Virginia Tech, the University of Utah, the University of Michigan, the University of Arizona, Iowa State University, and the University of Iowa all have more than twice as many DEI personnel as history faculty.

Here’s the first half of the table comparing DEI staff to history professors:

There’s a data visualization tool here. If you select one of the 65 schools from a drop down list you can see where it ranks on various metrics such as the number of DEI staff, the number of DEI staff per 100 professors and the ratio of DEI staff to history professors.

There’s a more speculative portion of the report which looked at diversity surveys given out by various schools. Because those surveys aren’t standardized (different schools ask different questions) the results are difficult to compare but Heritage suggests the size of a school’s DEI staff doesn’t necessarily correlate with a better climate for students:

For example, the University of Michigan has the largest DEI staff on multiple measures. It has the most people working on DEI, and it has the highest ratio of DEI personnel to ADA compliance staff. In a recent climate survey, 72 percent of University of Michigan students report being satisfied or very satisfied with the campus climate. Among under-represented minority students, that figure drops to 62 percent for undergraduate students, and 55 percent for graduate students.

These climate outcomes are not much different from Mississippi State University—an institution with far less DEI infrastructure. In a recent survey administered by Mississippi State, students were asked whether they felt “accepted, respected, and appreciated,” which is arguably a tougher bar to meet than simply being satisfied with the climate. Despite having a higher standard and significantly smaller DEI staff, 72 percent of Mississippi State students report being accepted, respected, and appreciated by students different from them. Among African American students, 68 percent reported being accepted, respected, and appreciated by students different from them—scarcely different than the overall result. Among Hispanic students the figure is 78 percent—higher than the overall Mississippi State result.

Heritage isn’t recommending an end to DEI staff or programs but it is suggesting that there appears to be some bloat at some of these schools which could probably achieve similar results with fewer staff: “Given how cash-strapped many of these states are, legislators should consider reducing and restructuring DEI staffs to achieve legitimate goals at substantially lower cost.”