University of Virginia Spends $20M on DEI Staff

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 22, 2024

Over the past few years, the conversation regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) funding from the government has transitioned from interesting to hostile.

A plan that was put in place to ensure universities and corporations around the country were incentivized to hire a diverse staff has turned into something else entirely. The latest school on the chopping block is the University of Virginia, as it’s recently been discovered that the school spends some $20 million a year on DEI staff.

Understanding the Need for Diversity

Even though it may seem like a million years ago, it actually hasn’t been that long since Black Americans and women of any color were even allowed to work at the nation’s top universities.

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Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963

Source: Wikipedia

The Civil Rights Movement was only 60-odd years ago, and that was just the beginning. It was an uphill battle for Black applicants for decades. Women have been allowed to work for a bit longer, but they were hardly ever chosen for a position over a man until the 1970s.

The Lack of Diversity Was Present Even Into the 21st Century

By the time the new millennium arrived, every American had the right to work in any job they wanted to, but that didn’t mean they would be hired. In fact, there was still a significant lack of diversity among the majority of corporations, universities, law firms, and hospitals well into the 21st century.

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A diverse group of coworkers smile in a selfie

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To combat this frustrating issue, the US government decided to get involved. In 2020, they formed the House of Representatives’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which focused on and funded what they called DEI all around the country.

DEI Initiatives Were Controversial From the Start

From the very beginning, these DEI initiatives were extremely controversial. Some argued that the best person for the job should always be hired, regardless of skin tone or gender. Many Americans wondered why their tax dollars were being spent on diversifying the workforce when they saw no direct benefit.

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Orange background with the words Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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But others said that the system hadn’t been working, and it was crucial that more Black Americans and women were hired to ensure a diverse staff. It was worth spending a bit of the government’s reserves on making sure there was an equal playing field.

Some Businesses Took Advantage of the Funding

While the debate regarding the ethical realities of DEI initiatives continued, unfortunately, some businesses, including hospitals, corporations, and universities, took advantage of the program.

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Two businessmen shake hands over a wooden table

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Reports showed that because they could receive funding from the government for hiring a diverse staff, these establishments hired based on color and gender alone, instead of choosing the right applicant for the job. Additionally, many businesses hired a staff specifically to run the DEI department, which was costing the American taxpayers millions of dollars.

The University of Virginia Spends a Fortune on DEI Hires

One example of this reality is the University of Virginia. A recent study was released that states the UVA spends $20 million every year on its 235 DEI staff members, money that comes from both the federal government and the students’ tuition.

Piles of US bills, including $100, $5, $1

Source: Freepik

According to the research, 30% of that total is spent on benefits for the small percentage of the university’s staff, and the other 70% goes towards padding their outlandish salaries.

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Some UVA DEI Staff Members Make Half a Million a Year

The study, conducted by Open the Books, a nonprofit that promotes government spending transparency, explained that several of the UVA DEI staff members make almost of half a million dollars a year.

A professor lectures students at a university

Source: iStock

Martin N. Davidson, Senior Associate Dean & Global Chief Diversity Officer takes home $451,800 annually, Kevin G. McDonalds, the VP for DEI & Community Partnerships isn’t far behind at $401,465, and the list goes on.

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UVA Has Argued That the Collected Data is Inaccurate

Since the study was released, UVA has argued against the data, claiming that they only spend $5.8 million out of their $2.3 billion annual budget on its 55, not 235,  DEI staff members.

Exterior of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia that was built in 1826

Source: iStock

However, author of the Open the Books study, Adam Andrzejewski, says UVA is flat out lying. He wrote that the university has “consistently undercounted DEI staffers in presentations to the public.”

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The Author of the Study Is Clearly Against DEI Initiatives

It’s crucial to understand that while data often cannot be influenced by opinions, the author, Andrzejewski is undoubtedly against all DEI initiatives, not just those at UVA.

Two white men cross their arms while looking at the camera in an office

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Within his “data-based study,” Andrzejewski wrote statements such as, “[the] university embraced the divisive quotas of the neo-Marxist DEI crowd,” and “millions of dollars in student tuition and taxpayer monies are flowing into promoting anti-American notions and radical philosophies.”

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They Aren’t Alone: Some Argue This Money Could Be Far Better Spent

However, while some may see Andrzejewski’s anti-DEI study as racist or sexist, others agree with him wholeheartedly. The majority of Americans who weighed in on the subject simply argued that this extreme amount of money could be used in much better ways.

A woman who just graduated from college celebrates with her diploma in hand

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For example, one commenter explained that up to 100 worthy students from any background could receive full scholarships with the excess DEI funding. Another noted that the other professors, who aren’t working within the DEI umbrella, could see a significant increase in their measly salaries.

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Many Other Universities Are Getting Rid of Their DEI Programs

Whether because of complaints or simply realizing that there are better ways to allocate their money, several other US universities have already done away with their DEI programs.

View of the tower at University of Florida through the local fora

Source: University of Florida

Florida Governor Rob DeSantis actually banned state DEI funding to the University of Florida and every other college in the state in 2023. As of March 2024, “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification” is strictly forbidden in the Sunshine State.

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The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Has Officially Been Disbanded

The stories of the exorbitant cost of the DEI staff at UVA and the prohibition of any programs at the universities in Florida are certainly interesting and important. However, in some ways, they are already old news.

Exterior of the US House of Representatives with a small waving American flag

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As of the last week in March 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion has officially closed. While this plan came from the best place, it just didn’t work. Though there may be a new, different piece of legislation in the future that attempts the same thing.

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