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State gives $800M for raises & engineering in exchange for university freezing diversity positions

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In a deal months in the making, the University of Wisconsin System has agreed to “reimagine” its diversity efforts, restructuring dozens of staff into positions serving all students and freezing the total number of diversity positions for the next three years.

In exchange, universities would receive $800 million for employee pay raises and some building projects, including a new engineering building for UW-Madison.

“This is an evolution, and this is a change moving forward,” UW System President Jay Rothman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But it does not in any way deviate from our core values of diversity (and) inclusion.”

The compromise brokered with Republican legislative leaders caps a contentious six months of negotiations for the state university system over diversity, equity and inclusion programming. Campuses view DEI programs and staff as critical in supporting a broad range of students while conservatives cast the effort as wasteful and racially divisive. …


  1. Anonymous 12/09/2023

    When Oregon State became the NCAA baseball champions, the UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny (who seemed to pay top dollar for that job) got jealous and dumped wrestling so he could have a baseball team, too.

    Apparently, though, the UO’s jealousy has never extended to Oregon State’s engineering school, or remedying the shocking omission of an engineering school at the “flagship” university.

    Perhaps, at least, Johnson Hall will experience a wave of wisdom and at least start a medical school with a teaching hospital — and an ER — right here in Eugene. (PK Medical Center?) Or, perhaps not…

    • uomatters 12/09/2023

      Knight is going to give UO big bucks for an engineering school. It’ll be great for most of UO, and will be his parting fuck-you to the humanities faculty who tried to humiliate him over the WRC, who will see their importance shrink still further. The only questions are how much he will be able to get the state to put up as a match, and what UO will have to pay OSU for their sign off.

      • honest Uncle Bernie 12/09/2023

        Do you think the “Knight Campus” was his f-u to the science faculty of the “regular old campus”? I’m really curious what you think.

        If they do start an engineering school — I’m dubious, but plenty of other odd things have happened at UO — where will they put it? There is not really much land in B North Parking — and besides they need parking space to satisfy the city (and the staff, too).

      • AnonAlum 12/11/2023

        Did the humanities faculty try to sabotage UO’s relationship with Knight in an attempt to score a moral victory? Were they recruiting/influencing student leaders in their campaign against Knight?

        I know Knight gave major gifts to academics prior to the WRC situation. In hindsight it all seems like a big FU to Knight. That said, Nike isn’t exactly clean.

    • uograd 12/12/2023

      Pardon me. but there’s already a school of engineering at Oregon’s flagship university. OSU is the flagship and it has a school of engineering. Come to think of it, PSU has engineering as well. The state doesn’t need a third program, nor can it afford one.

  2. CSN 12/09/2023

    It isn’t just diversity positions. It’s a total administrative “position freeze.”

    “The System will maintain through December 31, 2026 the number of positions across the entire enterprise that are funded by either GPR or program revenue dollars (including tuition) at the level in effect on January 1, 2024. The position count will be
    calculated in the same manner as the System’s annual report to the Joint Committee on Finance. The number of positions will be determined on a System-wide basis, which would allow for position expansion at one or more universities to accommodate growth so long as there were a comparable number of position reductions at other universities.”

    Doesn’t apply to faculty, researchers, student workers.

    Another interesting condition:

    “UW-Madison will not renew the Target of Opportunity Program (“TOP”) after completion of the 23/24 academic year. In lieu of TOP, UW-Madison will initiate an alternative program focused on recruiting faculty (regardless of their identity or ethnic/racial background) who have demonstrated the ability to mentor “at risk” and/or underrepresented students to achieve academic success and who have demonstrated academic and research excellence.”

    It also looks like there is a bunch of building demolition that’s going to happen as part of this. I’m trying to find a pun or quip here, but it’s Saturday morning after finals week and I’m out of that kind of gas.

    • uomatters 12/09/2023

      Thanks for the careful read. I wonder if this deal will become a model for other state legislatures with public universities suffering from administrative bloat – whether that be through growth in DEI positions, strategic communicators, lawyers, Ass Provs, deanlets, or consulting payments.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 12/09/2023

      It may be that DEI has crested and is now receding. That certainly seems to be true in the red states. The DEI stuff is not popular except in the deepest blue places, if there. The fiasco of the three presidents’ testimony before Congress likely means DEI is going to get hammered all over the place. A lot of faculty who want to help students with different types of disadvantage are getting fed up with DEI — even if they’re still afraid to say it out loud.

      • thedude 12/09/2023

        The problem is the DEI departments keep on sending out strategic communications saying how popular they are and how important they are… And then siding their strategic communications as proof of their importance.

        • uomatters 12/09/2023

          Please work on your spelling.

          • Thedude 12/09/2023

            This is just voice to text software failing. Maybe I just need a strategic communications person to craft this for me.

      • Dead Duck 12/09/2023

        I hope so. Kindness is the highest virtue in my book, and DEI is the opposite of that.

        In my last couple of years at UO, I was frequently observing semi-cryptic bigotry on campus, and repeatedly asking myself whether I wasn’t just imagining it. Surely it must have been that…

        But, in my last year, I heard someone in top leadership (with my own ears, in a small meeting) say that UO needed to halt all hiring of [demographic group X]. I grew up in a backwater town in the midwest, but I never heard anyone say anything like that back then.

        Anyway, I’m gone, and perhaps UO is better off. Maybe. I will advise that if you’re miserable due to all of this, you should consider leaving if you can. Life is short. One thing I discovered after doing so is that almost all of my medical insurance costs, which looked so large on my UO pay stub, are now covered by Obamacare subsidies. Anyway, do your research–it might be easier than you think.

        My last years at UO were turning me into a bitter and awful person. Now that I’m gone, I’m at peace. Best of luck to you all.

        • Dead Duck 12/11/2023

          P.S. Look at this. It’s a December poll from _The Economist_. Go to page 103, which has results for the question, “The Holocaust is a myth, agree or disagree?”

          Take a moment to imagine how you think the various demographic groups would respond.

          The reality is shocking. Urban=14%, Rural=3%. Under 30=20%, 45+=1% (ish).

          The “not sure” numbers are _far_ worse.

          I just pushed a broom at UO, figuratively speaking. But you among the faculty have a moral responsibility here. You should have an “all stop” day–tomorrow. Run some video of history, so that your students can see it all.

          I can’t believe this is happening, but here we are.

          • UO Matters Post author | 12/11/2023

            Thanks for this disturbing link. However I must point out that fall quarter classes ended on Dec 1.

          • honest Uncle Bernie 12/13/2023

            As you point out, the level of ignorance/denial about the Holocaust is worse among urban people, worse among the young. They might as well be denying that slavery existed in the Americas, or that WWII actually happened. Even if I attribute it to ignorance, rather than willful denial, it is horrifying. I think a lot of it is ignorance. It’s just amazing and appalling how ignorant they are today. For all I know, maybe the 18-24 year olds think 9/11 didn’t happen, or was an inside job. Is this a failure of the K-12 schools? It certainly doesn’t speak well for the colleges if that population is similarly ignorant. Is it just that people are plugged into a warped digital reality?

  3. Good rejection 12/10/2023

    Thanks IM for the link. The deal that was narrowly rejected by the Regents was more than scrapping diversity things.
    ‘The deal would have frozen hiring for diversity positions, dropped an affirmative action faculty hiring program at UW-Madison and created a position at the flagship campus focused on conservative thought….’
    ‘UW-Madison also would have created a position that focuses on conservative political thought funded through donations and scrapped a program designed to recruit diverse faculty.’

    Glad they rejected it. The legislature was holding raises to University employees (after allowing them for all other state employees) in hostage to direct specific academic programming.

  4. UO Escapee 12/14/2023

    News flash: The deal has now been approved.
    University of Wisconsin System board approves deal for $800 million in state funding that cuts back diversity initiatives
    The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has voted 11 to 6 for a deal with GOP lawmakers to cut back diversity initiatives in exchange for state funding – a deal the same board rejected four days ago.
    Read in CNN:

    • UO Matters Post author | 12/14/2023

      Thanks for the update. This link from the UW student newspaper is pretty good. The gist:
      Under the deal, the UW System will freeze hiring for DEI positions for three years and restructure over 40 of the system’s 130 DEI positions into general student success positions. The school will also guarantee admission for students ranked in the top 5% of their class and create an endowed chair to focus on conservative political thought.

      In return, the UW System will receive $800 million for pay raises to over 30,000 employees, a new engineering hall for UW-Madison and various systemwide building projects.

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