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George Mason University has nearly 100 DEI staffers, analysis finds

ANALYSIS: As administrative staff has grown, GMU’s instructor-to-undergrad ratio has decreased 

George Mason University has at least 87 staffers working on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, according to an analysis by The College Fix. To put that in perspective, there are 59 full-time history and art history professors employed at the school.

Of the 87 DEI posts, it’s a mix of employees and students with full-time or part-time positions working to advance DEI in some capacity, and most of those positions appear to be paid and full-time, the analysis found.

The roles include vice president for DEI and chief diversity officer, director of the Center for Culture, Equity and Empowerment, and director of faculty diversity, inclusion and well-being.

Public databases list the salaries of nearly 40 of those posts, totaling more than $3.5 million annually.

The Fix also found GMU employed 130 administrators per 1,000 undergrads in the 2022-23 academic year, an increase of 11 percent since 2017, according to data filed by the school with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Administrators include public relations, administrative support, IT, student and academic affairs, and legal and other non-academic departments.

As administrative staff has grown, GMU’s instructor-to-undergrad ratio has decreased since 2013, from 89 educators per 1,000 students to 84 educators per 1,000 students in 2022-23.

The findings regarding GMU’s DEI positions were aided in part by research conducted by the Heritage Foundation last year. The conservative think tank’s September 2023 report, “The Dangerous DEI Bloat in Virginia’s Public Universities,” found GMU employs about seven DEI staff per 100 tenured or tenure-track faculty.

“George Mason University, which has a reputation as a right-of-center institution, has 7.4 DEI personnel per 100 tenure-track faculty, which is the highest of any public university in the country analyzed in this Backgrounder,” according to the report.

“…GMU has at least 69 DEI personnel, which, given that it has 938 tenured or tenure-track faculty, yields a ratio of 7.4 DEI staff per 100 faculty.”

Asked for an itemization of the 69 DEI personnel, Heritage Foundation fellow and report co-author Jay Greene directed The Fix to a thread he posted on X outlining the roles found.

GMU President Gregory Washington has disputed the findings.

He “replied with an email to all 40,000 of his students disputing Heritage’s numbers and pronouncing the university a free speech mecca. Some of his points may be valid — for example, when he argued that Heritage’s use of only tenure-track faculty might not be the fairest indice,” the Washington Examiner reported.

President Washington also argued in his memo that the size of GMU — the largest public university in the state, which enrolls about 40,000 students — requires a number of staffers devoted to DEI.

DEI appears to remain a top priority at the university. GMU is currently planning to add two “Just Societies” courses to the general requirements for students to graduate. Just Societies is “aligned with Mason’s commitment to preparing students to act in a diverse, global world,” according to GMU’s website.

Professors would be able to submit their courses to count for the mandate if they embed DEI concepts into the curriculum.

George Mason University just announced last week it will delay implementation of new DEI mandate, a decision that came after a vocal contingent of center-right law and economics professors sounded the alarm, and GMU trustees appointed by Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin balked at the proposal. The requirement is still in offing for 2025-26.

MORE: UW-Milwaukee employs about one administrator for every five students

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About the Author
Therese Joffre -- Hope College