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After Iowa Board of Regents abolish higher ed DEI initiatives, high-paid deans on chopping block

University of Iowa’s associate vice president for DEI division makes nearly $375,000 per year 

Well-paid DEI officials at Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa could soon be out of jobs, following a vote by the board of trustees.

The Iowa Board of Regents recently approved a proposal to abolish all “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives at public universities that are not required for compliance with state law.

The proposal followed a legislatively mandated study group report that examined DEI programs, compensation of DEI officials, and other DEI-related requirements at several of the state’s top public universities.

University of Iowa’s associate vice president for its DEI division makes nearly $375,000 per year in compensation, according to the report.

ISU’s vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion has a total salary and benefits package of $343,202, according to data in the report. That position should not be confused with the Ames’ university’s “director of equal opportunity” whose compensation also eclipses $300,000.

An Iowa state representative applauded the board’s approval of the report in an email statement to The College Fix and said he would be working to make sure the universities were implementing the recommendations.

“The board’s recommendations are a positive step forward in returning confidence back to Iowa’s institutions of higher education,” state Rep. Taylor Collins told The College Fix.

“I’ll be watching closely to see if any legislation this coming session is needed to ensure the DEI bureaucracies at our regent universities are eliminated,” Collins said. “We will not sit idly by as our own taxpayer dollars are weaponized against us all under the guise of ‘DEI.'”

The study group’s report made ten recommendations to Iowa’s public universities regarding DEI activities and initiatives that the schools should cut funding to or eliminate completely.

One recommendation states that universities should eliminate or modify any DEI-related staff positions that do not perform duties required for compliance with state laws, according to the report.

That means the University of Northern Iowa may need to downsize its staff, which includes two DEI assistants to the president, both of whom make more than $160,000 per year. The university also employs an “equity specialist” and a separate “equity investigator.”

The study group also advised universities not to implement DEI requirements as part of their hiring practices and employee performance standards.

MORE: UMich botanical garden employes DEI manager

“The Study Group questions the necessity of DEI-specific competencies or employment expectations, particularly when there is little direct relationship to the requirements of the position,” the report read. “The Study Group proposes a recommendation assuring performance is not evaluated based on an individual’s participation in DEI initiatives.”

Other recommendations the report made include prohibiting universities from requiring students or employees to submit DEI statements and use pronouns.

A media representative for the Board of Regents told The College Fix that the board’s vote to approve the report means the state’s public universities must adhere to the recommendations.

“The universities will comply with the recommendations and will report back to the Board on their progress,” Josh Lehman told The Fix.

Lehman said universities will update the board on their progress with enacting the recommendations at its April 2024 meeting.

The College Fix reached out to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, the two largest colleges in the state, to ask what their plans were to implement and comply with these recommendations.

Jeneane Beck, assistant vice president of external relations at the University of Iowa, referred The Fix to a university news release stating that the school intends to implement the report’s recommendations.

However, Beck did not answer any questions on specific DEI activities the school planned on cutting back or eliminating.

Iowa State University did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent in the past two weeks.

The decision also drew praise from a political scientist who has studied the extent of DEI at public universities.

“Congratulations to Iowans for banning the DEI offices in their state and for following the example of our allies in Florida, and Texas,” Boise State University Professor Scott Yenor wrote on X.

Yenor is a researcher with the Claremont Institute and has tracked the proliferation of woke programming.

MORE: Admin-student ratio grew 18% at Kentucky State University

IMAGE: Iowa Board of Regents/YouTube

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About the Author
Jack Applewhite -- University of Georgia