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U. Wyoming’s vice president of DEI announces departure as university shutters DEI office

University will also end mandatory DEI statements for hiring, promotion

The University of Wyoming’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion has announced he is leaving the institution for a new job as UW prepares to shutter its DEI office next month.

Zebediah Hall, who was tapped for the top DEI position at UW in November 2022, has accepted a new position in a similar role at Salisbury University in Maryland.

It’s the latest development at the Cowboy State’s flagship public university, which is being forced to eliminate its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office due to legislative pressure, where Republicans hold a supermajority in the statehouse.

The university also announced in May it will no longer require job candidates to submit DEI statements nor evaluate employees’ commitment to DEI in annual performance reviews.

Campus media affairs representatives did not respond to repeated emails and a phone call in recent weeks seeking comment from The College Fix. Hall also did not respond to a request for comment.

University President Ed Seidel and the UW Board of Trustees made the changes “in response to legislative action that removed $1.73 million from UW’s upcoming biennium budget. A legislative budget footnote also directed that no state dollars be spent on the DEI office, effective July 1, 2024,” a news release stated.

“We received a strong message from the state’s elected officials to change our approach to DEI issues,” Seidel stated.

Seidel added support programs run out of the DEI office that handled other efforts, such as mandatory state and federal nondiscrimination trainings, and ones supporting veterans, nontraditional students, and students with disabilities, will be transferred to other offices and remain intact.

As for the closure of UW’s DEI office, some argue such moves may not go far enough.

In his piece “Closing DEI Offices is Not Enough,” political scientist Samuel Abrams argued DEI is so embedded in other aspects of campus life, from student support services to libraries to residential life programs, that the dogma will continue to be heavily propagated on campuses.

“Sarah Lawrence College, where I teach, provides a straightforward case,” he wrote in his April piece. “Only a handful of administrative staff are technically in the ‘diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging’ (DEIB) office, for instance.”

“But that has not stopped the overt and inappropriate activism of many other staff members employed by SLC to theoretically help elevate all students.”

At the University of Wyoming, programs that may be considered preferential to one group of individuals but are “deemed essential to help students,” such as Women in STEM activities or the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference, will be funded by “private” sources and continue on, the news release stated.

However, the University of Wyoming this summer will not host the annual Black 14 Social Justice Summer Institute. This program is for high school juniors and seniors with a “passion for social justice,” with learning outcomes such as exploring possibilities to social problems and promoting a sense of community “amongst a diverse group of students.”

“The University of Wyoming will not hold a Black 14 Social Justice Summer Institute this year, as members of the Black 14 have chosen not to participate in a third annual institute,” the university wrote in a May news release.

“In a letter to President Ed Seidel, three Black 14 members wrote that the group is discontinuing its involvement in the institute because Wyoming government leaders have eliminated funding for UW’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

MORE: U. Wyoming settles with Christian silenced for calling trans student ‘male’

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Giovanna Johnson is a student at Gordon College in Massachusetts studying political science. She is a senior editor of the student publication The Gordon Review, and her writing has appeared on Future Female Leaders and her blog Sustained By Grace.