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Dissolving a DEI Office to Save DEI

Dissolving a DEI Office to Save DEI

Inside Higher Ed

Liam Knox
June 21, 2023
Lawmakers in Florida, Texas and Ohio have passed bills this year requiring their public institutions of higher education to dismantle diversity, equity and inclusion offices. The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville didn’t wait on legislative mandates; last week, the university dissolved its DEI division on its own.
But the DEI office’s staff and resources will be retained and reallocated to other offices, primarily in human resources and student success. Mark Rushing, associate vice chancellor for university relations, said administrators were discussing what that relocation would look like with the affected employees, including the current vice chancellor of diversity, equity and inclusion, Angela Mosley Monts.
In a letter announcing the decision, Chancellor Charles Robinson stressed that it was made not in response to political pressures, but as the first step in a strategic plan to emphasize student success and faculty recruitment.
“Supporting equal opportunity, access and belonging are critical to our land-grant mission and university values,” wrote Robinson, Fayetteville’s first Black chancellor and former vice chancellor for diversity. “It is my belief based on my experience … that we can accomplish better outcomes by reallocating resources into these essential areas.”
The university is the first public higher ed institution in the country to dismantle its DEI offices voluntarily, and without a mandate from its Board of Trustees—the University of South Dakota replaced its DEI offices with “opportunity centers” last January, but it was following direct orders from the state’s Republican governor.
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