University of North Carolina Spent $90M on 700 DEI Staffers

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Jun 04, 2024

With recent reports suggesting that U.S. schools and colleges need to get rid of their diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives, this also means getting rid of the staff who were involved in those initiatives. 

One report into the use of DEI initiatives found that the University of North Carolina (UNC) has been spending around $90 million on staff salaries for members of the DEI team, something some have said is a waste of money.

Schools Are Abandoning DEI Initiatives

Since January 2023, schools have made the decision to start abandoning their DEI initiatives. This comes after years of people asking for better diversity, equality and inclusion in schools and the workplace.

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This also comes after a Supreme Court ruling ended affirmative action in college admissions. As a result, 158 campuses in 22 states have decided to eliminate their DEI programs and initiatives. 

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University of Wyoming Eliminates Its DEI Staffers

One of the schools that has gotten rid of its entire DEI staff department is the University of Wyoming. This comes after the decision made by the Supreme Court to stop affirmative action on college admissions.

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The Board of Trustees unanimously made the decision, and the money that would have previously been spent on the staff of this department will be spread out across other departments within the university. 

What the University of North Carolina Says About DEI

On the UNC website, they have outlined what their DEI initiative is and how it helps the university’s community feel “respected, valued and visible with the ability to thrive.”

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They want to celebrate all members of the UNC community and uplift “diverse identities, cultures, experiences and perspectives.” The website states that the college does all of this to help create a “diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment” for everyone who attends UNC, whether as a student or member of staff.

The University of North Carolina Spent $90 Million

What UNC spent on DEI staffers was a total of $90 million. This amount was spent on 686 staff members across 16 campuses, spending that may soon be coming to an end. 

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A view of one of the buildings at the University of North Carolina. The clouds in the sky are light pink, and the roof of the building has a dome on top. It is surrounded by autumn trees.

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The college’s Board of Governors is set to meet in late May 2024 to come to a decision as to what to do with the department. If they vote to get rid of it, all campuses across the university will eliminate it.

Breakdown of University of North Carolina’s DEI Staff

When it comes to UNC’s DEI staff, 288 were employed in a DEI-related role and were on the university’s payroll. 398 also held a DEI-related role. However, these staff were not on the payroll but were a part of committees, commissions and councils.

A chart showing the University of North Carolina institutions, DEI staff and roles, total salary and total cost. UNC-Chapel Hill has the most staff and costs, whereas Central University has the least.

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In addition, around 80 students were in volunteer DEI roles, and 66 employees were on the university’s websites as part of DEI committees but weren’t on the payroll. There were 30 DEI-focused groups across each campus, made up of various employees. 

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DEI Officials Are Paid Six-Figure Salaries

The report looked into exactly how much UNC is paying its DEI staffers, with many of the high earners making six-figure salaries. The highest paid is the chief diversity officer, who has a salary of $412,799.

A table showing the highest-paid DEI officials at the University of North Carolina. The table includes their name, institution, job title and the amount they’re paid at the taxpayer's cost.

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Even staffers on the lower end of the top earners’ income scale were still earning six-figure salaries. The lowest paid of these is the HR/diversity professional, who earns a yearly salary of $230,404. 

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DEI Is the Opposite of Inclusion

According to CEO Adam Andrzejewski, the founder of Open the Books, which is the company that has written the report on DEI spending, DEI is “the opposite of inclusion.”

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He went on to say that putting everything into an “oppressor-oppressed model” only serves to cause more anger, resentment and division among people and is why DEI initiatives should come to an end. 

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The University of Virginia Spent $20 Million on DEI Staff

UNC isn’t the only university to have spent millions on its DEI staff, as it has also been found that the University of Virginia has spent $20 million on theirs.

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The university had 235 DEI staff members, and the money it received from the federal government and student tuition fees was spent on staff benefits and their salaries.

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The University of North Carolina Is Diverting DEI Funds

Instead of continuing to spend the money on DEI initiatives as originally intended, UNC has decided to find other uses for it before the Board of Governors decides whether or not to eliminate DEI requirements.

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The university is expected to spend $2.3 million on public safety and policing initiatives. This comes after the news that UNC’s Chapel Hill campus has spent $30 million on DEI salaries, and North Carolina State University has spent $16.4 million. 

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Chapel Hill Campus Has Voted to Dismantle DEI Initiatives

While everyone is waiting to see what UNC’s Board of Governors decides on what to do with its DEI initiatives, the university’s Chapel Hill campus has already made its decision.

One of the buildings at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The building is made from red bricks and has trees growing on either side of it.

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They have decided to dismantle their DEI initiatives and spend the money on public safety and campus police for the safety of their students.

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The University of North Carolina Has Voted to Reverse and Replace DEI

The Committee on University Governance at UNC already voted in April 2024 to reverse and replace a policy related to DEI. This board is made up of five people, but the 24 members of the Board of Governors needs to have a majority vote for this to take place.

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If UNC’s DEI initiatives are repealed overall, this university will be the latest in a long line of other colleges and universities to abandon them.

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