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U. Nebraska Lincoln creates nearly 300 new admin positions in 10 years

Increase includes vice chancellor for diversity, other DEI positions

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln added more than 350 new positions in the past decade – nearly all of them administrative – while student enrollment numbers remained steady, a College Fix analysis found.

Among the new hires is a vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. His salary for the current year is $267,585, according to a university personnel report.

During the 2022-23 school year, the most recent data available, the public university’s Lincoln campus employed 4,014 full-time administrators and support staff, according to information the school filed with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

In 2013-2014, IPEDS data shows UNL employed 3,720 administrators and support staff – meaning it added 294 administrative positions in 10 years.

Administrators and support staff include management, student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, legal and other non-academic departments.

Meanwhile, across the same decade, the number of teaching and instructional staff increased by 60, and student enrollment remained relatively the same, about 18,100, according to the data.

UNL employs about one faculty member for every 10 students and about one administrator for every five students.

The ratio of faculty to students increased slightly from 99 faculty per 1,000 students in 2013 to 102 in 2022, the analysis found.

However, the ratio of administrative and support staff to students increased more, going from 206 to 221 per 1,000 students, according to IPEDS data

When asked about the data, Melissa Lee, chief communications officer of the University of Nebraska System, deferred to the Lincoln campus Monday in response to The College Fix.

“The University of Nebraska’s Central Administration office does not have a comment, as hiring decisions are made at the campus level,” Lee said in an email.

The UNL communications office did not respond to several requests for comment in the past two weeks, asking for a response to the analysis and an update on proposed cuts to DEI programs.

Calling for DEI program cuts

In November, UNL Chancellor Rodney Bennett said they are considering an $800,000 cut to “diversity and inclusion” programs due to a pending budget deficit, The Fix reported.

“UNL’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion will be restructured to primarily support university-wide priorities and initiatives with a greater focus on DEI efforts occurring at the college and unit level,” Bennett wrote to the Academic Planning Committee at the time.

Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, told The Fix in a recent email his group is urging lawmakers to cut funding for DEI programs across the University of Nebraska system.

DEI really represents “division, exclusion, and indoctrination on our college campuses,” he said in a testimony to the state legislature in February, shared with The Fix.

“It seeks to destroy our present system in which individuals attain success based on competence, diligent work, and merit, not through taking advantage through perceived victim status,” Kagan said, adding, “Our tax money should not fund this intellectual nonsense.”

Prioritizing diversity, inclusion in hiring

The Lincoln campus employs at least 40 people just for DEI programs.

Its Diversity and Inclusion Office has 10 full-time employees, including a vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion – a position it created in 2019, one year after forming the office. Other DEI staff include a director of faculty engagement and well-being and an assistant vice chancellor for inclusive leadership and learning.

For the current academic year, the salary/wages budget for the office is more than $800,000, according to the university personnel report.

One of the office’s projects is the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Gender and Sexual Identities. Among other things, the commission gives out an award to individuals, departments, or campus organizations “that have made a significant impact on the LGBTQA+ community.”

The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance employs 16 people, including a civil rights resolution specialist and affirmative action officer, and the Gender and Sexuality Center employs 13, according to the university directory.

But other employees, including faculty and staff, also may have been hired based on their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In a recent Free Press report, John Sailer, a senior fellow with the National Association of Scholars, found “DEI has been central to hiring decisions” in many University of Nebraska programs, including the College of Engineering.

The university’s evaluation rubric gave good marks to job candidates “who identify and discuss ‘intersectional aspects of diversity’ — while punishing those who fail to ‘distinguish inclusion from diversity,’” according to Sailer’s investigation.

UNL also began offering a “Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion” minor in 2021, and its DEI office gives out seven awards every year to faculty, staff, students, and alumni who “actively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in transformative and sustainable ways.”

Additionally, a campus program launched earlier this year recruits “teachers of color” to “address the challenges of white normative spaces in education,” The Fix reported.

Lawmakers taking action

The university’s DEI efforts have come under scrutiny in recent years.

Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, a former university regent, is among the critics. During his campaign, he said critical race theory should “not be taught in our K-12 schools, and it shouldn’t ever be forced on a student at the University of Nebraska.”

“It is morally wrong to silence people or invalidate their viewpoints because of their skin color,” he said previously. “These should not be divisive or political statements. We’re all created equal in the eyes of God, and we should be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. Dave Murman introduced legislation in January to prohibit public colleges and universities from requiring employees to participate in “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs or sign contracts requiring support for it. It also would ban spending tax dollars on DEI programs.

MORE: ‘DEI must die’: Nebraska bill would ban university diversity pledges

IMAGE: University of Nebraska at Lincoln/Facebook

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.