California-izing the University of Texas at Austin
I have written previously about the radical plan of University of Texas President Greg Fenves to turn UT-Austin into a burnt orange knock-off of his alma mater, UC Berkeley. I have exposed how, under Fenves’ administration, UT has assaulted campus free speech, denied due process in Title IX proceedings, removed historic statuary from the UT campus, fought to preserve racial preferences in admissions, unleashed a social justice curriculum that infects every academic department, turned the UT School of Law into a social justice academy, overseen the establishment of a bloated “diversity” bureaucracy that accomplishes little but fueling perpetual grievances, and, more than a half-century after UT was integrated, reinstituted racial separatism at UT’s flagship campus.
The most destructive initiative the Fenves has undertaken, however, deserves greater attention than it has received: his administration recently announced a Faculty Recruitment Diversity Initiative that will make it very difficult to recruit and hire excellent academic talent, and will almost certainly lead to gender, ethnic, and racial hiring quotas at UT.
Instead of the relevant academic department simply searching for the best-qualified candidate, UT now creates artificial hurdles calculated to result in the selection of a favored minority. The buzzword is “diversity.” For example, the search committee must be “diverse,” and the search committee chair must undergo special “diversity training”: “The search committee must be made up of diverse members with different perspectives, backgrounds, and expertise with a commitment to diversity and excellence. The search committee chair must complete training provided by the Office of Inclusion and Equity or have other documented diversity/inclusion training.” Remember that name—the Office for Inclusion and Equity. We will return to it shortly.
UT’s $450,000/year Executive Vice President and Provost Maurie McInnis has formed Diversity and Inclusion Committees in all of UT’s colleges and schools, and recently promoted Edmund T. (“Ted”) Gordon—a radical proponent of critical race theory who was the founding head of UT’s Center for African and African Diaspora Studies—to be UT’s Vice Provost for Diversity.
Gordon is responsible for enforcing compliance with the University Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (euphemistically described as a “blueprint for optimal future diversity and inclusion efforts”), which effectively imposes hiring quotas for the UT faculty by setting hiring “goals” for the various EEO categories. It is an affirmative action plan for future faculty hires at UT.
Criticizing a similar diversity initiative at UCLA, Heather Mac Donald facetiously asked whether Albert Einstein could get hired as a physics professor today. It is not an idle inquiry. Universities should seek the best talent available, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. “Diversity” in faculty hiring—meaning selecting a candidate in order to achieve some notion of demographic parity—should never be a consideration. Hiring quotas inevitably sacrifice academic excellence on the altar of political correctness and identity politics.
UT’s Office for Inclusion and Equity, an Orwellian name for a department charged with preferential treatment and reverse discrimination–depending on one’s gender, race, ethnicity, or other “identity”—has developed an Inclusive Search and Recruitment Toolkit for faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. The Introduction describes the purpose of the “toolkit”:
The following comprehensive recruitment toolkit for faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows provides strategies and ideas drawn from best practices from across UT Austin, comparable institutions, and relevant research literature. The toolkit, originally developed and implemented by Strategic Initiatives in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, serves as a foundation for the faculty recruitment initiatives facilitated by the newly established Office for Inclusion and Equity (OIE). In partnership with academic leaders, Inclusion and Equity staff assist academic deans, department chairs, and faculty leaders in enhancing recruitment and retention initiatives across campus. UT Austin fosters an environment of inclusive excellence in education, research, and public service that supports a diverse group of individuals with different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. The pursuit of excellence and diversity are intertwined and integral to achieving the university’s mission and core purpose of transforming lives for the benefit of society.
In other words, UT will pay lip service to “merit” and “excellence,” but the real goal is to achieve certain demographic results, namely “diversity.” In academic jargon, this is code for parity for all the victim groups currently recognized by the grievance studies movement. Again, from the Introduction: “In this toolkit, diversity is defined as demonstrating respect for all individuals and valuing each perspective and experience. Diversity includes but is not limited to dimensions of dis/ability, gender, gender identity and expression, international/national origin, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status.”
I encourage readers to peruse the entire toolkit, but here is a sample. UT suggests that the hiring committee place its thumb on the scale when filling a position by drafting the job description to require a “commitment to diversity” or similar verbiage:
Include as a qualification in the job description a reference to demonstrated experience teaching or working with diverse populations; examples might include mentoring activities, research interests, committee service, courses taught, recruitment and retention activities
Interweave the importance of diversity throughout the job or program announcement
EXAMPLE: In a recent faculty position, the University of California Berkeley included the following text in the position announcement, as well as a link to Calcierge, a comprehensive online resource focused on the recruitment and retention of faculty offered through UC Berkeley’s Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty: “We are interested in candidates who will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education through their teaching, research, and service.” (Emphasis added.)
UT President Greg Fenves, who taught at UC Berkeley for 20 years after getting his graduate degrees there, consciously seeks to emulate what is going on at UCLA and UC Berkeley. The disastrous “diversity” initiatives he has launched are patterned after UC. We must not let Fenves “California-ize” our beloved Forty Acres.