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Don’t say ‘America’: Michigan State has 140+ employees working on 222 DEI action items


ANALYSIS: University says DEI is part of everything it does

Michigan State University currently has more than 140 employees working on 222 different “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” agenda items.

The salaries for those employees, some of whom work on DEI full-time, totals more than $18 million dollars according to a College Fix analysis. One of these goals included an “inclusive language” guide that instructed university employees not to say “America” or use Easter and Christmas imagery.

The Fix pulled the data from the latest “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” report for the public university in Lansing and used salary information from the school and government watchdog group Open the Books. In a few cases, The Fix estimated the salary for some employees based on the lowest salaries for personnel in comparable positions.

Some action items are more specific than others, including the creation of an “LGBTQIA2S+ Resource Guide,” from the human resource department. The guide “will feature crucial links to gender-affirming and transition-related care benefits, specifically catering to the needs of the trans and non-binary community.”

Others include “[f]ostering a team culture and building meaningful relationships with diverse constituents.”

The university has not started on about 25 percent of its goals, according to the latest report. Only 10 percent, 22 in total, have been fully implemented.

MSU told The Fix it did not have a scorecard yet for this school year. However, in the 2022-23 school year the school broke down each item by status. One of the finished goals was the creation of “an inclusive communications guide that highlights common terms that reflect culturally competent, empathetic and inclusive language.”

That guide recommended against using words around Easter such as “eggs” and “chicks” and avoiding “Christmas trees” and “gifts,” during the winter.

Yet the same section of the DEI agenda recommended “[providing] more inclusive recognition of holidays/commemorative dates.”

MORE: Florida bans public university DEI spending

The university disputed The Fix’s numbers. The Fix provided MSU with a preliminary analysis of the data for review.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are values that align with and enable our land grant mission of expanding educational access for all,” spokesman Mark Bullion told The Fix via email.

“No budget is dedicated to ‘DEI.’ With more than 12,000 employees, diversity, equity and inclusion administrators are only a tiny fraction of personnel,” he said.

“With that said, many of the jobs listed are required operational roles that ensure compliance with legal obligations,” Bullion said. “Others include executive leaders with broad divisional oversight and employees who serve on a committee or in an advisory capacity.”

Some of those higher-level leaders include Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman Beauchamp, who makes $729,994 per year, according to Open the Books. He is listed in The Fix report because Health Sciences is implementing some goals relating to community outreach.

However, other high-paid administrators appear to be focused on DEI. This includes Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar Bennett who makes $363,511 per year, among other benefits, and Deborah Johnson, director of the Diversity Research Network. She makes $204,471 per year.

The compliance headcount could include the 22 personnel in the Office of Institutional Equity, such as intake coordinators and civil rights investigators.

A conservative Michigan think tank criticized the state’s higher education spending.

“Taxpayers have been showering public universities with billions of dollars and asking nothing in return,” James Hohman with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy told The Fix via an emailed media statement.

“We should revisit that policy,” the center’s fiscal policy director said.

“Lawmakers need to reassess how much money is being given to state universities to ensure that taxpayers are getting good returns for their investments.”

Editor’s note: A sentence has been added clarifying Michigan State reviewed a preliminary estimate of the staff count and salaries. A sentence summarizing Mackinac’s objection to state spending has been edited.

MORE: UMich now has more than 500 jobs dedicated to DEI

IMAGE: Roberto Galan/Shutterstock

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About the Author
College Fix contributor MJ Cadman is a graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she is studying theology.