University of Florida Fires All DEI-Related Employees

Evan Poellinger | March 6, 2024
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In one of the most substantial anti-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) decisions by a university to date, the University of Florida has fired all staff who occupied DEI-related positions at the school.

On March 1, the university released a memo detailing the dissolution of the position of the Office of Chief Diversity Officer, and also revealed that it had “eliminated DEI positions and administrative appointments, and halted DEI-focused contracts with outside vendors.” The university cited the Florida regulation 9.016, passed on November 9, 2023, which prohibits DEI-related expenditures.

Instead of trying to circumvent the regulation, the university removed a total of 13 DEI-related positions and dissolved 15 administrative appointments. Beyond the removal of the positions, the university plans to reallocate the $5 million of DEI-related funding as a contribution to a fund for retired faculty. To give the former DEI employees a cushion, they will receive twelve weeks of pay and are allowed to apply, until April 19, “for expedited consideration for different positions currently posted with the university.” “UF HR will work to fast-track the interview process and provide an answer on all applications within the twelve-week window,” the university announced. Effectively, this could put these same DEI personnel back in university positions within months.

This development seems to mark a comparatively unprecedented step in the ongoing conflict over DEI between American universities and state legislatures. State legislatures across the country have passed regulations restricting funding of DEI ideology and positions on college campuses. Other elected officials have taken more roundabout ways to control the spread of DEI like the Wisconsin State Legislature’s threat to withhold faculty and staff raises unless DEI positions were reduced. However, in this case, the university in question acted on its own accord to dissolve the DEI-related positions, whereas other institutions have made efforts to disguise or maintain DEI offices.

Of course, the question still remains as to what impact, if any, the former DEI staff will have in their new roles, if they are rehired by the University of Florida. In either case, they will no longer have the benefit of conducting any diversity related activities from an office designated for that purpose.