Diversicrats Are All That’s Left on Campus

At this point in time, the word diversity is spoken with such pedestrian calm that people forget that it used to have an edgy import.  Not that many years ago, “diversity” meant the introduction of women and minorities into academic jobs and the academic curriculum—as it does now. But back then, that introduction was cast as exhilarating, adventuresome, innovative, revolutionary, and inspiring.

It was asserted that ‘The Dead White Males’ on the syllabus were stale and unchanging. Old white males on the faculty were “deadwood” and “dinosaurs.” Women and minorities would bring fresh ideas and overlooked human experience to the scene. Moreover, they would charm non-white male students, those historically disadvantaged youths seeing someone like them at the podium and surmising that higher education was, indeed, for them, too.

Sometimes, the diversiphiles spoke downright epistemologically, claiming that non-white males in the teaching ranks would deliver entirely new “ways of knowing” to academic practice. The High Theory ventures of the 1970s—Derridean deconstruction, Lacanian psychoanalysis, reader-response theory—would find their completion in these rising apostles of “difference.”

[Diversity’s Worst Failure–the Faculty]

Well, that kind of thrill is gone, but diversity hasn’t lost its institutional power. Intellectually, it’s a bore, but the search for more women and minorities to fill positions has only become more desperate and more binding. It’s all bureaucratic now. Diversity isn’t a scholarly issue, it isn’t a concept or theory, and it isn’t up for debate. Academics lost interest in discussing it back in the 00s, I would say, and that old slogan “Celebrate Diversity” barely draws a nod from even earnest campus liberals. No, in 2019, diversity is just a management practice, like the handling of Federal funding and quest for alumni dollars.

But it’s a thriving practice. Just look at the salaries.

  • At the University of Iowa in 2018, the interim vice president for diversity pulled in $284,350.
  • At Cal State-Los Angeles, the head of the office of diversity drew $201,595.
  • The chief diversity officer at the University of Florida makes $198,038 base plus $80,889 in “auxiliaries.”
  • The vice provost for equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan has a gross income of $407,653.
  • Gross pay in 2017 for UCLA’s vice chancellor of equity and diversity: $383,778.
  • Salary for vice-chancellor of equity and diversity at Berkeley: $221,453.

You can track down these numbers for university leaders at all public institutions by searching state databases. (I don’t give links because I don’t want the personnel information to be personal. It’s a system.) They show clearly how far administrative bloat has afflicted higher education—and become the center of diversity thinking on the campus.

[Hating White Males Is Not a Curriculum]

A few years ago, Heather Macdonald reported on the hiring of a diversity dean at the University of California-San Diego. The bare circumstances of the hire’s recruitment were this:

Linda Greene, a diversity bureaucrat and law professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will pull in $250,000 a year in regular salary, but that’s just the beginning: she’ll receive both a relocation allowance of $60,000 and 100 percent reimbursement of all moving expenses, a temporary housing allowance of $13,500, two fully paid house-hunting trips for two to the San Diego area, and reimbursement for all business visits to the campus before her start date in January 2013.

Compare that to what the pioneers of diversity get—that is, the leftist professors in the humanities—and you see how far diversity has devolved from an idea to an office. The professors teach diverse writers and artists and thinkers, and they pledge to hire more minorities, but they find fewer and fewer students enrolling in their classes, and they often hear of program cuts happening at schools across the country.

Meanwhile, those offices of equity, diversity, and inclusion keep growing and growing. Little Amherst College has an Office of Diversity & Inclusion that lists fully 19 people on its “Meet Us” page. The Office of Vice Provost for Educational Equity at Penn State, which “is charged with fostering diversity and inclusion at Penn State and creating a climate of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the University’s faculty, staff, leadership, and student body” lists 66 (!) people in its staff directory. In her City Journal article from 2012, Macdonald warned of a “massive diversity bureaucracy,” which has indeed pressed ahead with nary a peep of grumbling from professors who otherwise mistrust meddling administrators and rich institutions.

One wonders if any of the cutting-edge professors in the first years of multiculturalism in the curriculum and diversity in the personnel realized that their outlook would eventually congeal into an administrative project entirely beyond the purview of the faculty. Or that an administrative office would require more and more money and resources that could have been used by the departments to support instruction and recruitment, and whose leader would earn four to five times the compensation that the average humanities teacher would make.

[Word by Word, SJW’s Are Changing America]

They didn’t foresee it, but the result was inevitable. Diversity never was a substantive insight. It never had much conceptual content. At the bottom, It was always an identification and valuation of people and groups, which is an administrative matter, not a reflective one. We don’t need professors to envision and produce diversity. Bureaucrats can do it all by themselves and get paid a whole lot of money for doing so.

Mark Bauerlein

Mark Bauerlein

Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory.

7 thoughts on “Diversicrats Are All That’s Left on Campus

  1. Would like to know when these offices for Diversity & Inclusion plan to make themselves obsolete – at some stage they should be unnecessary if they do their job right and organisations become gender and race blind. At one organisation I am involved in they are still proposing all-women shortlists for selecting political candidates. That’s despite the majority of those elected now being women.

  2. Hiring all these useless administrators reminds me of my days playing pick-up softball. What do you do with terrible players when you felt an obligation to let everyone play who want to play? We put them all into right field and gave them names for their position like “short right fielder.” Oddly, they didn’t seem to mind.

    These bureaucrats could never be real professors but politics demands that schools make the numbers. At some level they must know what is going on, but for $250,000 a year they keep quiet. It would be worse–they could demand jobs teaching physics!!

  3. Here’s another thing. In my experience, it is not true that the faculty have lost interest and enthusiasm for diversity. In fact, I have colleagues that I respect who make it a point to go out and recruit or nurture high school students from lagging groups, and/or lower socioeconomic sectors. Like it or not, they have a real commitment to this stuff, and it is not so easy to be against it, let alone argue for that. Personally, I am probably OK with it as long as it doesn’t involve compromising standards. (A big if.)

    These are colleagues in what most people would consider hard-headed, practical and/or theoretically very respectable fields.

    And another thing: I’m not so keen on the Diversity bureaucracy myself; back in the days when I was of a mind to fight it, I did, to no permanent effect. But hey, we have an International Student bureaucracy. Is that so bad? Well, maybe not, especially if it helps keep the foreign students, who subsidize the in-state students a lot, enrolled as paying customers.

    And one last thing: the top administrators are very aware that there is a diminishing pool of future students coming down the pike. Even when you include the students from lagging groups — who are an increasing share of the student prospects!

    Nobody ever mentions this, but I think part of the motivation for “Diversity” — apart from the desire to not see a growing portion of the populace fall further behind — is the practical goal of keeping “butts in seats.” Which will allow payrolls to be met, etc. Maybe not such a bad thing for the admins to keep in mind!

  4. What’s not being said about these “Diversity” offices is that they are a springboard to the upper administration — these people are the future presidents and chancellors.

    Case in point, Amherst College’s President “Biddy” Martin, whose publications include Femininity Played Straight: The Significance of Being Lesbian and “Sexualities without Genders and Other Queer Utopias”. Hence, is it really a surprise that her Office of Diversity & Inclusion lists fully 19 people on its “Meet Us” page?

    Likewise, should one really be surprised that the Populist Republicans increasingly see higher education as a vast wasteland needing to be bulldozed flat for the common good?

  5. The title of this article “Diversicrats Are All That’s Left on Campus” is hyperbolic, at best. There’s way too much of this stuff for my taste. But all that’s left? I’d guess that Diversity (with the capital D) where I am privileged to toil is maybe 1 or 2% of the general fund budget — that is, leaving out research, dorms, athletics, etc. — it is not “all that’s left” or even anything remotely close. The claim is of a kind with similar gross exaggerations, such as that all students are majoring in worthless subjects.

    1. No, it goes much beyond the 1%-2% you cite (although my guess is that its more than that). There are a lot of indirect costs that you never see, starting with politicized hiring in the Physical Plant, which leads to dirtier classrooms and snow not being removed as effectively. It costs more to purchase from a “Minority-Owned Business” or to hire a “Woman-owned Contractor”, etc.

      Likewise when these Diversicrats are promoted to other administrative positions, they make stupid decisions that have consequences campus-wide.

      And as to the dorms, those are 110% political….

  6. They can only get paid out of federal money. Cut that off entirely–cut off all student grants, loans, loan guarantees, and non-STEM “research” grants, and severely curtail the STEM research grants (i.e., no longer allow the university to take its inflated vig)–and the diversicrats will wither on the vine. Universities will not spend down their endowments on the continued employment of these legions. Yes, some babies will go out with the bathwater, but that is the nature of radical change. Gangrenous limbs that are amputated usually contain some health tissue. Continuing to complain about this but refusing to effect a radical cure seems rather pointless to me.

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