United States

Texas Universities Cut Jobs And Programs In Response To Ban On Diversity Initiatives

Texas universities have made significant cuts and modifications to their staff and offerings in response to a ban on diversity programs in higher education.

Representative image Photo: AP

In response to one of the nation's most sweeping bans on diversity programs in higher education, Texas universities have made substantial cuts and alterations to their staff and offerings. According to school officials speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, hundreds of jobs have been eliminated or modified in recent months.

The head of the University of Texas system, Chancellor James Milliken, disclosed that the system's nine academic and five health campuses had collectively axed 300 full- and part-time positions. Additionally, over 600 programs associated with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training have been discontinued across these campuses.

While presenting the fullest public account of the impact of the new Texas law to date, Milliken emphasized, "You may not like the law, but it is the law."

GOP state senators summoned several chancellors to the Texas Capitol to provide insight into how campuses are adhering to the law signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott last year. This legislation places Texas among about one-third of states nationwide that have taken measures to restrict or prohibit DEI initiatives and practices.

Concerns about potential circumvention of the law were raised by Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton in a letter to chancellors in March. Creighton expressed unease over reports of campuses attempting to evade compliance through tactics such as renaming employee titles or campus offices.

Republican lawmakers in approximately two dozen states have introduced bills aimed at limiting DEI initiatives this year, according to an Associated Press analysis. Conversely, Democrats have sponsored measures supporting DEI in at least 20 states.

Last month, the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest campuses in the U.S., announced the closure of its Division of Campus and Community Engagement and the elimination of positions to comply with the ban.

Similar responses have been witnessed elsewhere. Earlier this year, the University of Florida announced over a dozen terminations in response to a comparable state ban.

Addressing lawmakers, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp underscored that the legislation "makes it crystal clear" that deviating from its mandates would lead to adverse consequences.

In neighboring North Carolina, the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently approved reallocating $2.3 million of state funds earmarked for diversity initiatives to public safety and policing. This decision comes amid discussions within North Carolina's public university system about amending its diversity policy before legislative intervention.

In Oklahoma, the head of the University of Oklahoma's Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center announced the termination of its National Education for Women Leadership program due to an anti-DEI executive order signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt last year. The program, which had trained over 650 women from numerous colleges and universities nationwide over the past two decades, faced elimination despite objections from Democratic Oklahoma state Sen. Kay Floyd.