How Big Is UVa’s Diversity Bureaucracy?

Marcus Martin, chief diversity officer at UVa

The University of Virginia is paying its Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, Marcus Martin, $349,000 a year — the highest salary of any of 50 higher-education diversity officer identified by Campus Reform, a project of the conservative, non-profit Leadership Institute.

How much money are public universities devoting to their diversity bureaucracies, Campus Reform asks, and could that money provide a greater benefit to minority students in the form of financial aid?

While Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), acknowledged to Campus Reform that “colleges today are educating a much broader range of students,” he suggested that “it is certainly worth asking whether runaway expenditures on inclusion and diversity staff are actually helping to create a campus where students of different backgrounds share their experiences and views.”

“Too many institutions spend lavishly on teams of highly-compensated and narrowly-focused administrative specialists,” he added, noting that the University of California at Berkeley “spends $18 million annually on a staff of 150 in its Office of Inclusion and Equity.”

“Let’s turn these funds instead to bringing more deserving students from underserved backgrounds to Berkeley,” Poliakoff continued. “It is crucial for boards and leaders to ask whether spending on new administrative salaries will serve the genuine needs of students or just fulfill the wishes of certain administrators.”

So, how big is UVa’s diversity bureaucracy? It’s difficult to say from a perusal of the website. Unlike academic departments, which typically list all professors, instructors and staff on the Web, the Office of Diversity and Equity does not. But we can glean some details.

UVa’s Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) describes its mission this way:

[The Office] assists and monitors all units of the University in their efforts to recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students from historically underrepresented groups and to provide affirmative and supportive environments for work and life at the University of Virginia.

[It] provides leadership, information, consultation, coordination, and assistance to the various units and constituencies within the University of Virginia in an effort to embrace diversity and equity as pillars of excellence, synergize actions at all levels of the institution, and cultivate inclusiveness and mutual respect throughout the community.

While the ODE does not list its employees, it does link to various committees including the Diversity Council, which pulls in 38 committee members from around the university; the Disability Advocacy and Action Committee, which lists a chairperson and staff member; the LGBT Committee, which also has a chair person and staff member; the Women’s Leadership Council, which consists of 15 committee members; and the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.

Individual schools at UVa also maintain their own mini-diversity bureaucracies. For example, the McIntire School of Commerce has an Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The Engineering school has a Center for Diversity in Engineering. The law school and Darden school of business also cite extensive activities and partnerships relating to diversity.

Last but not least, the University also has something called the Idea Fund, which enjoys a “close relationship” with the Office for Diversity and Equity, and is staffed by that office. The Idea Fund lists the following:

  • Marcus Martin, M.D. – Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity
  • Meghan Saunders Faulkner – Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity for Programs and Projects
  • Jessica McCauley – Virginia-North Carolina Alliance Program Coordinator
  • Kristin L. Morgan – Director, University & Community Relations and Development
  • Gail Prince-Davis – Administrative Assistant to the Vice President
  • Debra White – Director of Business Operations and Grants Management

Here’s what the Idea Fund does:

IDEA Fund Trustees generally advocate for the promotion of the Fund’s values within the University. Through meetings and communications with alumni, administrators, staff, students, community members and faculty, IDEA Fund Trustees are committed to staying abreast of, collaborating on, and sponsoring events, programs, committees, symposia and appointments that serve its values. Examples of this are collaborations on past annual MLK celebration events, sponsorships of symposia, statements of support and concern to University leadership on topics that are relevant to the Fund’s mission, and providing mentoring support to minority/underrepresented students, faculty, and staff at the University through focused alumni networking and contacts.

Whatever else these people do, it’s evident that they hold a lot of meetings and participate in a lot of events, programs and symposia. Whether all this activity adds up to substantive support for minority students or mainly constitutes a lot of ivory tower navel-gazing is less clear.

So, how effective is the Office of Diversity and Equity? Take a look at the Office’s Diversity Dashboard, and you’ll find that UVa, despite its commitment to ethnic diversity, isn’t very diverse. Here’s the breakdown of undergraduate students:

That’s the flattering graph. The stats for faculty, graduate students, and staff show even less diversity — although the university is making an effort to change that. Thirty-one percent of the Tenure Track & Tenured professors hired in 2015-16 were non-white.

The underlying assumption of all this bureaucratic activity is that ethnic minorities need more than financial aid to attend UVa. They need the ministrations of a small army of diversity administrators. That’s a convenient assumption for university administrators to have. Perhaps someone should ask minority students which they would prefer: more diversity administrators or more financial aid?

Hat tip: Elena Siddall

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12 responses to “How Big Is UVa’s Diversity Bureaucracy?

  1. Being a part of higher education on Virginia, what’s interesting to note is that none of these ‘diversity’ organizations have any measurable metrics to determine if it succeeds or fails. All other aspects of campus life have metrics: fraternities denote it by how many new members join; colleges by the increase of incoming freshmen; the dining halls by passing inspections and the number of diners it serves; sports teams by it victories.

  2. Wouldn’t it be better to spend a lot less on administrators and more on financial aid?

    I can see the need to have some level of administrative support for helping new or transfer students make a successful transition to the college or university. And I can see how a new black or Hispanic student could benefit from being able to get support from someone of the same background. But I bet most of the work is focused on growing the department.

  3. “statements of support and concern to University leadership on topics that are relevant to the Fund’s mission”

    Say wha-a-at?

    Jim may be reluctant, for whatever reason, to label it what it is, but this is ordinary bafflegab, gobble-dy-gook, and, well…just plain bullshit.

  4. Are there reliable numbers on the total salaries of administrators versus teachers? In private industry we call that overhead and its growth is generally the enemy of efficiency and profitability.
    A key private industry metric is sales/employee. Do you know or can you publish what the ration of students/university employee is?

  5. ah yes.. we’ve neglected our periodic perfunctory flogging of the UVA beast.. eh?

    accompanied of course by cries of “bad bad administrative costs”.. and ” metrics, metrics.. my Kingdom for Metrics”!

    Please, please UVA.. be more transparent and provide us with metrics so we can flog you more!

    Good Grief!

    Here – we have a day where health care has blown up.. and Martinsville has been cited as the most opioid-hooked city in Virginia – but duty calls.. we have not flogged UVA recently – as duty demands..

  6. Obligatory, perfunctory symbolic floggings of govt and institutions seem to be favored by certain types of folks who often use words like “snowflake”..like badges of honor and such… heathens they are… cretins…and as adolescents probably kept the spray paint folks and ribble and cheap beer companies in businesses but after growing up in the age of the internet have switched to verbal vandalizing and annoying blather!

    UMW 84

    take that!

  7. I think any institution that receives public funds where the costs have gone up 4X the cost of living for decades should receive scrutiny. Simple as that.

  8. I think any “arrangement” where the institution receives some arbitrary amount of “funds” on the premise that they would then make their prices for unspecified products , more “affordable” is a fatally flawed arrangement and any expectations should not be any more specific than the wretchedly unspecified “arrangement”.

    how in the world can we be talking about the government subsidizing those with family incomes of 100K and over … so that soup-to-nuts college is “affordable”?

    Who decides what is “affordable” and for what products and using what metrics ? If the majority of colleges – nationwide – has similar rates of increase – why would you target just a few arbitrarily.. and ignore others i the State or even nationally?

    the whole arrangement is bizarre and who knows what should be expected other than each person’s own individual ideas in the absence of any specifications?

    I’ve not seen a single group that has proposed any kind of cogent, rational approach to determining “affordability” that is actually means-tested such that there is no such thing for households that make 100K and over..

    All we have is a general complaint .. that because the govt provides some amount of money – not even specified, that then entitles the govt to essentially control prices and determine affordability – even for households earning over 100K.

    what an idea! NOT!

    Again – ill-defined complaints alone – do not mean anything. We need actual proposals on what to do .. THEN we could have a truly honest debate!

    what we have now is this:

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