Utah University Renames DEI Office Under New Law

Evan Poellinger | March 13, 2024
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Utah Valley University (UVU) has paved the way as the first university in Utah to remove Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)-focused language from its former diversity office.

In a statement released via Instagram on March 7, UVU announced that the office was being renamed the Office of Institutional Engagement and Effectiveness to meet “recent legislative action governing equity, inclusion, and diversity (a.k.a. DEI) work at Utah’s colleges and universities.” The office stated that “the office will lead efforts to foster student success, coordinate campus initiatives,” as well as “oversee the use of assessment results for institutional improvement and effectiveness.”

UVU is the first of seven public colleges and universities, which will be required to scrub their DEI offices before July 1, to comply with HB261, signed into law on January 30 by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R). Under the law, DEI-related spaces will be required to “open any specific race- or gender-based efforts to all individuals.” Furthermore, the law also expressly prohibits the use of any language associated with DEI terminology at public colleges universities.

Beyond Utah, other universities have been made to comply with anti-DEI laws passed in other states. On March 1, the University of Florida fired all of its DEI employees in order to adhere to regulations from the Florida Board of Governors.

Of course, it must be considered whether this renaming and re-organization will bring DEI policies at Utah’s public universities under control. Administrators at Texas A&M University were caught on camera discussing ways of implementing DEI in hiring practices. Furthermore, the University of West Florida, while technically complying with the newly implemented anti-DEI regulations in the state, did not actually remove its former staff from the office or change its mission. Additionally, at the University of Florida, prior to the firing of its DEI employees, the nursing school’s associate dean still described the focus of her work as focused on “interplay of global diversity.”

While UVU’s former DEI office has changed its name and has expressed what appears to be a non-DEI related mission, it remains to be seen as to whether the spirit of DEI ideology has truly departed from UVU’s campus.