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July 18 2017

College Diversity Officials Rake in Major Dough

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

The college affordability crisis has many causes and one of them is administrative bloat. New analysis sheds light on how much staff dedicated to increasing diversity contribute to the costs of higher education.

Campus Reform analyzed salary data for diversity administrators at the nation’s leading universities and found that schools pay them $175,088 per year on average. These administrative positions were generally identified as chancellor, provost, or deans. At least 15 of them had salaries toping $200,000 with two earning over $300,000 annually.

Schools defended paying these officers inexplicably high salaries:

J.B. Bird, director of media relations at the University of Texas at Austin, defended Vincent’s salary by emphasizing his impressive “portfolio,” which “comprises diversity, community engagement, and outreach,” and the management of “50 programs, including the UT charter school system which has 22 campuses.”

Meredith McGlone, director of news and media relations at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, stood by the university’s chief diversity officer’s salary of $226,000, saying “he manages programs that directly serve about 1,500 student and provide mentoring to an additional 1,500 students,” though noting that “ensuring fair and equitable treatment of students, faculty, and staff is a shared responsibility of campus administrators.”

Some, such as Director of Media Relations Erika Mantz at the University of New Hampshire said a salary of $170,000 is “consistent with industry best practices,” which is to compensate “at approximately the median levels of comparable institutions.”

These salaries are not far off from the $162,745 per year median salary that Insider Higher Ed calculated for Chief of Diversity Officers at research institutions. Even institutions that confer lesser degrees can pull down hefty salaries of $90,000 to $120,000 per year.

To put that in context, these administrators earn three times the median income of American households, which is $55,775 per year. These administrators pull in just shy of what pediatricians and dentists earn, but above many other careers such as pilots and engineers and other healthcare professionals which we can argue generate much more value to people’s lives and society.

Diversity officers and their staff are far from the biggest administrative departments on campus, but they represent a slice of the growing layers of administration which drive up the costs of delivering higher education today.

Per estimates, public and private colleges and universities expanded their payrolls by 28 percent between 2000 and 2012, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade. These positions claim to provide student services, but is this bloat really justifiable?

Diversity and inclusion officials spend their time finding new ways to diversify student bodies, but too often diversity is just limited to race and ethnicity and to the neglect of economic background, experiences, and political thought.

Many don’t treat all people and perspectives equally, but support censorship against anything considered majority and mainstream. From banning microaggressions to anti-privilege classes, there is – conveniently - no end to the aggressions on campus which warrant the diversity positions, their staffs, and their budgets. They have a vested in staying relevant and cultivating the next generation of staff.

If we want to quell the fervor and absurd behavior by students, perhaps we should start with scrapping these high-paying, non-teaching positions that do nothing but create division and mistrust between students.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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