Study of DEI at UVa is Shoddy Work

Adam Andrzejewski

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Today I participated in a Zoom webinar with our Jim Bacon and Adam Andrzejewski of Open the Books. The title of the session was “How the Open-Government Movement Can Revolutionize Public Policy At UVA.”  In reality, it was a rant against DEI and how UVa is “pushing this radical ideology.”

The focus was the report by Andrzejewski’s organization, Open the Books, that UVa has 235 employees on its payroll supporting and “pushing” DEI throughout the institution at a cost of $20 million. After the session was over, I took Andrzejewski up on his invitation to examine the report. Its claims are exaggerated and misleading and are based on flimsy assumptions.

Before discussing the report in detail, I want to make two things clear:

  1. I have long contended, on this blog and elsewhere, that higher education administration is bloated. That feeling was reinforced as I went through the names in Open the Books.  The same question kept popping up in my mind as I went through the list of deans, associate deans, directors, etc.: “What do all these people actually do?”
  2. Although I support the aims of DEI, I think higher education has gone into overkill mode on the issue. For example, I recently participated in a program sponsored by a state institution of higher education, consisting of several sessions. Each session opened with a segment on DEI, which seemed out of place and sometimes strained to fit into the topic of the program.

Those are legitimate issues for debate. What is not acceptable is throwing out numbers that are misleading and have little basis in fact.

The “report” is basically a data dump with little or no analysis. Open the Books took UVa’s list of employees, their job titles, and salaries, and sorted it, using key words associated with the “DEI rubric.” During the Zoom session, I posed two questions. (Actually, I posed three questions, but one was not relevant to this discussion.)

The first question was, “How many of the employees listed were in positions that existed before the DEI policy was adopted?” The implication of the report is that UVa created this vast “DEI bureaucracy.” However, if those positions had existed before DEI was adopted, that means people in those positions were, supposedly, doing something for the university and DEI had been added to their responsibilities. When Jim posed this question, Andrzejewski dodged it. He started talking about the UVa Board’s decision in 2020 to embark on a $1 billion DEI push over a course of years. Open the Books “assumed” that the employee head count had to go up to implement that policy, he said. He went on to say that they had not taken a look at the hiring dates of the employees singled out. But that was not the question. I wanted to know how many of the positions had been established prior to 2020. There is a difference, but he did not even examine the easiest data to get in this regard.

Digging into his report and checking the UVa website, I found lots of positions that had been around a long time. The list included folks who worked for the Maxine Platzen Lynn Women’s Center. That was started in 1989. Lots of names from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights were included in the report. First of all, that office was established in response to federal law; second, it has been in existence for many years. Then there were staff who worked in the Office of African-American Affairs established in 1976.

Jim did not have time to get to my second question. It was, “Did you determine the proportion of an employee’s time that was devoted to DEI?” The answer is clearly no. If a person’s job title included any of the key words related to the “rubric” of DEI, that person’s entire salary was included in the calculation. That would be a proper course of action only if that person spent all of his or her time on DEI. I am sure that was not the case for many positions.

Job titles can be misleading about what a person actually does. For example, I once was in a state agency position in which my title was something similar to “program evaluation analyst.” Very little of my time was spent on program evaluation. Instead, my assignments mostly involved various tasks that popped up that the deputy director needed someone to do.

Higher ed is notorious for inflated job titles. One of the employees on the report’s list is the “Senior Director of Procurement and Supplies Diversity Services.” I looked him up on UVa’s website. He is the director of the procurement section in the Office of Finance. It’s a good bet that he spends most of his time managing a sizable staff and dealing with sensitive procurement issues. Any time spent on DEI is incidental. Yet, his entire salary of $224,375 is counted toward the total spent on DEI.

The job title of the procurement director, “Senior Director of Procurement and Supplies Diversity Services” is very awkward. I suspect that the university upper management, anxious to demonstrate the school’s progressive outlook, went around sticking “diversity” and “equity” into the job titles of a lot of existing positions, like this one. The title may have changed but the nature of the job did not.

Whole divisions or programs got caught up in this report due to the presence of one of those key words. For example, the report includes 15 staff, with total salaries of $2.1 million, of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. In addition to handling discrimination issues, staff in this office enforce Title IX requirements and handle ADA issues, among other matters. DEI may be the philosophical basis they use now, but most of their work deals with work separate from DEI. They were there before DEI became the policy and they will be there if DEI is ever dismantled.

Then there is the Center for Global Health Equity, which had the misfortune of having that boogeyman term, “equity,” in its name. From what I can gather from the UVa website this center is in the medical school and focuses on providing financial assistance to medical students who wish to do medical rotations in poor countries or areas, such as Southwest Virginia. Seven staff from that center are included in the report, along with their total of $295,401 in salaries.

In the webinar session, Andrzejewski made a generalization for which he has no basis. He claimed that the $20 million that he says UVa is spending on DEI is taxpayer and tuition money. He compared it to the in-state tuition paid by 1,000 students. Despite his claims, he has no idea where all that money came from.

Higher ed budget documents are notoriously opaque and UVa is one of the worst. Their expenditures are a conglomeration of general fund money, tuition money, grants, federal funds, endowments, and other non-general fund sources. All the Open the Books report did was list the salaries of the identified employees. There was no attempt to identify the source of the funds. If Andrzejewski and his staff had taken the time to examine the UVa website, they would have learned that the Maxine Platzen Lynn Women’s Center is funded from an endowment. Those 21 employees, with their total salaries of $1.1 million, to the extent that they are even “pushing DEI,” are not being funded by the public or parents of students.

I would guess there is some federal money supporting some of those positions in the Office of Equal Opportunity. However, even with the use of some additional public records, I still could not identify the sources of the funding in the areas highlighted by Open the Books. The information is somewhere and it is public, but it will take more effort than just using a publicly available list of employees, job titles, and salaries.

To be credible, a study such as this should have been conducted by a neutral party. Andrzejewski is anything but neutral. He is adamantly opposed to DEI. He compared the atmosphere at UVa to that of Poland under Communism. According to him, DEI “cuts and shreds” Jeffersonian principles. Its proponents are enemies of our country and UVa is “ground zero” in the battle. With a mindset in which one thinks DEI is everywhere, when he goes looking for it, he finds it everywhere, even if it is not there.

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19 responses to “Study of DEI at UVa is Shoddy Work”

  1. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    OK, so fair comments. Now do UVA's report of 55 employees. When asked for the supporting documents through FOIA, UVA's response was "No responsive records." For a presentation to the BOV. So, do you trust that number?
    As to tenure, I don't believe length of employment is listed in the comp disclosures. That would be hard to do without cooperation from UVA, which seems strangely unwilling to provide said cooperation. Perhaps too busy "saving our democracy." (By destroying it)
    Then there are the "split" duties arguments. Martin Davidson from the B school teaches ONE course. On why DEI is not successfully implemented in businesses. Or it could be it is junk, warmed over Marxism, and totally not belonging in businesses, just like the ESG "stakeholder" Marxism. (I don't know why Miyares hasn't pointed out the violation of fiduciary duties for firms virtue-signaling with ESG and sustainability. Go back to original Delaware rule, not this Marxist go woke go broke BS.)
    Then there are all of the unseen costs – each department in the College has an Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion. That would be 27 ADDIs, who also get $2,500 added to their research budget annually. This person makes sure all of the profs in the department get the sufficient amount of DEI credits to receive a favorable evaluation in (Leftist) peer review and to make sure the department as a whole "passes" in evaluations. Engineering has similar positions. So does MEd School, except they are JEDIs – Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion… Luke, I am your father…
    What is the soft cost here? Also, how much of UVA's Foundation money is being used here? Have you looked at UVA's "good neighbor" virtue signaling projects? – 6 virtue signaling committees that meet for years that UVA claims EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF PAPER is a Jim Ryan "working paper." What is to hide?
    I think Open the Books at least provides the data for you to attack (or analyze if you prefer). UVA hasn't. Ball is in UVA's court.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      My concern is not so much the tenure of the folks in the DEI-identified positions, but whether those positions themselves existed before the DEI policy. If they did, that means UVa determined that the work of whomever was in the position was needed. If DEI responsibilities were added to the job descriptions or expectations of a position, then the proportionate share of the cost of that position (salary and benefits) should be regared as a DEI cost, not the whole cost.

      Even if one accepts the university's number of 55 DEI positions, that is a big number with a cost of at least $5-6 million. In my opinion, that is justly subject to criticism. So, why throw out a ridiculously inflated number of employees and cost that can be punctured by someone with a little time on his hands?

      If the job of the Assistant Directors of Equity and Inclusion consists solely of monitoring DEI implementation, the total costs of those jobs, including the $2,500 research stipend, should be counted as a DEI cost.

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        Right. See how things are done?
        But UVA has only responded through its controlled organs and will not engage to arrive at a better number.
        I think the soft costs will exceed the known costs. If you watch the Faculty Senate meetings, particularly the Executive Committee, you can see and hear how deeply ingrained is the ethos of DEI…in their BEING. They debated for an hour over whether to let Bert Ellis appear before them after the failed censure vote (majority but not proper participation numbers and super majority – a large enough number of abstentions could kill it which seemed the preferred method not to "out" yourself). And some of the statements were nothing short of outrageous. Eg – he would submit a racist screed and they would have to publish it…it wouldn't be safe for Bert to know the names of the people in the DEI committee…"Bert loves UVA…from 50 years ago" (hahahah – and that came from a former professor of his!)
        That committee decided to cross its fingers and hope the General Assembly would do the dirty work.

        And I'll ask you – you know and followed Va government much longer and better and know more – has there EVER been an organized campaign against a BOV appointee before? Hasn't it always been a nothing burger? I think that shows the politicization of academia. I hear Bruce Smith was nominated for Tech and it was withdrawn because he never graduated, but I knew nothing of it (and am surprised at the quaint standards of thinking graduation was necessary – we had standards once!)

  2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “In reality,it was a rant against DEI and how UVa is “pushing this radical ideology.””

    Groundwork for July must be laid. Thanks for shedding light, Dick.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      These modern times…

      a BR DE&I analysis in the same vein (vane?) as a BR Climate Change analysis.

  3. Rafaelo Avatar

    A useful corrective. Thanks.

    Might be helpful to define DEI.

    So we can determine which are the pre-existing jobs that were already DEI- like; jobs that got new DEI obligations shoved into them or were merely decorated with a new Woke-pleasing name; and actual new programs that are 100% DEI.

    Simpler question than what does DEI mean in a particular context might be: does this spend state money based on race? Then its gone.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Ouch. You do realize that truth is not part of this exercise. Even I pointed out two years ago when BR began ranting that many of the “Keyword Positions” come without additional salary and/or are performed by general faculty and staff.

    As for administration bloat, somebody gotta sit in those plush offices in the newest and nicest building on campus. One of the impressive aspects of W&M was the windows in the president’s office had sash weights and opened. Why, if they tried, they could even hear the students outside.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    in a nutshell, a good analysis would have include pluses, minuses, and all the fractions.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    Thanks. Really good inquiry and analysis that gets to the meat of the issue… have NEW positions been created and are 100% (or mostly) devoted to DEI?

    If these two issues are not addressed in the attacks on DEI – it strikes me as the same old, same old culture war foolishness, although I'm not that surprised of attacks on higher ed from the right. Pro Forma for as long as I can remember. Same basic tune just different stanza.

    "Ivory towers", "social activism", etc has been the mantra of the right towards higher ed for decades.

  7. Matt Adams Avatar
    Matt Adams

    Perhaps a more pointed question regarding did their positions exist prior to the DEI attachment, would be. How large, if any increase were given to their salary with DEI now being a function. Or perhaps what was their job prior to the addition of DEI, did their position need to exist? Universities like Government are famous for manufacturing positions for friends, donors and the like.

    The problem with DEI like most other programs (even some safety programs) is, if is to be effective it must be organic not forced. Forced programs just invite people to go through the motions and add positions that otherwise are not value adders.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      For a change, I agree with you. If folks were given a raise due to DEI being added to their responsibilities, the amount of that raise should be counted as a DEI cost. Whether or not that position needed to exist before DEI is a fair question, but beyond the scope of this discussion. You are right that for DEI to be effective, it must be organic. I assume the justification for the big push and emphasis is to make it organic. Maybe that is what has got some folks all up in arms.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        I love seeing a William and Mary education put to good use. Thanks for starting with skepticism and asking the inconvenient questions. Kudos to Jim for giving you the chance to. Getting DEI in your title/job description probably became A Thing, some padding on the resume all wanted for their job security.

        When the fad fades, and fads fade, sadly all the bureaucratic bloat will linger….

      2. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        "I assume the justification for the big push and emphasis is to make it organic."

        Possibly, but my free market principles do get their Spidey senses tingling when something is forced.

        Ultimately, merit doesn't care what gender, race or nationality you are. It will follow normal distribution patterns and you'll achieve diversity and inclusion that way.

  8. Rafaelo Avatar

    A useful corrective. Thanks.

    Might be helpful to define DEI.

    So we can determine which are the pre-existing jobs that were already DEI- like; jobs that got new DEI obligations shoved into them or were merely decorated with a new Woke-pleasing name; and actual new programs that are 100% DEI.

    Simpler question than what does DEI mean in a particular context might be: does this spend state money based on race? Then its gone.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      The question is not that simple. Diversity can include all sorts of differences–gender, gender identification, ethnic backgrounds, as well as race.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It can be and is , handicapped…including veterans. We do accommodate. We insure that they are included – i.e. inclusion and diversity and we endeavor to give them an equal shot at opportunities.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    in a nutshell, a good analysis would have included pluses, minuses, and all the fractions.

  10. Dick, thank you for elevating the discussion — in stark contrast to UVA, whose communication strategy has been to hide, deny and obfuscate. You raise legitimate questions that bear examination and debate. In particular, you raise an interesting point in suggesting that many DEI positions existed before "DEI" became a thing.

    That said, allow me to make two points.

    First, how were you able to draw your conclusions? Because Open the Books made its methodology explicit and posted its data online. Open the Books invited discussion. Adam Andrzejewski participated in a webinar open to all comers and invited questions from anyone, including skeptics. By contrast, UVA has neither posted its methodology nor its data, nor has it been willing to engage in any discussion with anyone — or, most astonishingly, even with the Board of Visitors!

    Second, let us grant your proposition that a number of positions now classified as DEI previously existed in the UVA bureaucracy. I would very much like to see a graph showing the number of DEI positions that have existed year by year. Have DEI-like positions expanded in number over time, or not? UVA has all that information readily available, but UVA is the last entity that has an interest in making it public.

    Even if we grant that some DEI functions and positions existed before they were called DEI, or before Open the Books classified them as such, that does not obviate Open the Books' assertion (a) that there is a huge DEI bureaucracy at UVA today, (b) that it is growing in size and scope over time, and (c) that its influence pervades every corner of the university.

    Still, it's good to have these conversations. It forces us to be more precise in what we're asserting, and it points out where more research is needed. So, thank you.

  11. Lefty665 Avatar

    Perhaps there is value in the keyword analysis. It identifies UVa's embrace of DIE, even if some of the positions existed before, and regardless of where the funding comes from.

    Picking the fly poop out of the pepper of who funds what would be helpful in unwinding DIE. That is especially so when it identifies where general fund and tuition dollars are spent, but the keyword search does a pretty good job of highlighting the extent of the DIE infection at UVa.

    While you highlight what would be additional useful information, the keyword search provides data that is far from "shoddy". It looked for DIE and found where UVa has openly placed and identified it, even when that could come under the heading of "other duties as assigned" rather than a new position or job title. UVa virtue signalling merits scrutiny by those who pay the freight whether it be taxes, tuition, endowments, grants or other. Where virtue signals, money follows.

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