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Issues & Insights

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Colleges Hire Army of High-Paid, Ineffective Diversity Officers

 I&I Editorial

A new study finds that diversity among college faculty didn’t budge from 2013 to 2017. But what the study really exposes is a much deeper problem: rampant waste at massively taxpayer-subsidized colleges and universities.

“Colleges and universities have not realized much progress toward ethnoracial and gender faculty diversity in recent years — the exception being a modest increase (between 1-2%) in tenured Asians across institutional types,” the study, published by the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy, found.

Why does this matter? Because these institutions of higher learning have been dumping truckloads of money to build increasingly bloated diversity offices.     

Economist Mark Perry recently discovered that the University of Michigan has nearly 100 administrative positions devoted to diversity. More than two dozen of them make six-figure salaries. The Chief Diversity Officer makes almost $400,000. The total cost to the school: more than $11 million. That’s enough money, Perry calculates, to give more than 750 in-state students free rides.

The University of Texas at Austin has eight vice presidents in its Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, at an annual cost of $9.5 million. UC Berkeley has 175 diversity bureaucrats.

This year, Georgetown University created a new vice president position to oversee diversity at a school that already has: an Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action; an Office of Affirmative Action and University Human Resources; a Diversity Advisory Board; a Center for Multicultural Equity and Access; a Working Group on Reporting Incidents of Intolerance; an Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness; a School of Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion; a School of Medicine Subcommittee on Faculty Diversity and Inclusion; a Law Center Office of Equity and Inclusion; a Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service, and others.

Also this year, the University of Rochester created a new vice president position for diversity. Harvard said it was creating a new office and new Associate Deanship of Students for Inclusion and Belonging. Yale created a new Deputy Secretary for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Heather Mac Donald, writing in the City Journal, notes that this is part of a broader trend toward college administrative bloat.

“Bureaucratic outlays rose at nearly twice the rate as teaching outlays from 1993 to 2007, according to the Goldwater Institute. From 1997 to 2012, colleges hired new administrators at twice the rate of any student-body increase, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found.”

As a result, bureaucrats now outnumber faculty by 2 to 1 or more — double the ratio of 40 years ago.

But the effort to stuff universities with diversity officers is even more of a waste, since there’s no evidence that it makes any difference in terms of actual diversity. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research last year tried to determine whether hiring a “diversity officer” at a college had any impact on actual diversity among faculty. The short answer: No.

“Using a wide variety of robust specifications, we are unable to find significant evidence that the presence of an executive-level (chief diversity officer) alters pre-existing trends of increasing faculty and administrator diversity in the institutions we study,” the researchers found.

(Of course, the only measure of diversity these diversity czars are interested in has to do with things like gender and race. There is no concern whatsoever about the utter lack of ideological diversity among faculty or administrative staff.)

This administrative bloat wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that government policy is driving it, and taxpayers are subsidizing it.

Since 2000, the amount of federal college aid handed out each year has more than doubled, according to the College Board. Last academic year, taxpayers forked over $153 billion in aid to college students. Rather than make college cheaper, this tidal wave of federal subsidies has only fueled an equally large increase in tuition inflation.

So long as someone other than the student or their parents is footing the bill, colleges can afford to jack up tuition, and then use the money to create loads of high-paying feel-good jobs that have little or nothing to do with educating students.

Not a bad racket.

What can be done? How about putting strings on federal aid that require universities to account for how they’re spending taxpayer money? Or better still, require them to cut their overhead costs back to where were, say, 40 years ago.

— Written by John Merline


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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

2 comments

  • The real reason for hiring so many “diversity” admin staff is to boost the stats for the institutions’ minority quotient.
    They live in terror of being accused of failing to be sufficiently “diverse” by the racial-shakedown mafia, and qualified minority academics in rigorous academic fields are exceedingly scarce, so they pretend there’s a crisis of racial discrimination in the most left-wing institutions in the country, and create scores of high-salary, do-nothing admin positions that can be filled with minorities with laughable credentials who could never obtain a legitimate academic post.
    Meanwhile, tuitions skyrocket, indoctrination replaces free speech, and people cringe in fear of “offending” some snowflake mob, but at least the schools can brag about how “inclusive” they are.
    – Oberlin Class of ’83.

  • This article while holding bits of truth is missing a heap of importance and only focusing on a small part of the work CDO’s and other E&I educators do. It also fails to understand the importance of these roles in supporting students from diverse backgrounds. Higher Ed has always been and continues to be plagued by, racist and sexist ideology focused on a specific set of “Christian values”. All of which makes sense given the reason these institutions were founded. The trouble now is that this ideology is no longer what the masses say they should be about, thus that’s no longer what they should be about. The best response to this change in demand was to hire folks to make space for the people who had been systematically excluded. These positions also support students, faculty, and staff at numbers 10x or more of any football or basketball couch, most of whom make far more than most CDO’s. Additionally, in the age of “send her back” the work these folks do is emotional, physically, and intellectually taxing. We should certainly hold them accountable but that accountability has to be in line with the work they’ve been asked to do.

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Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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