The University of Michigan’s “Diversity staff” comprises nearly 100 full-time employees, with a budget over $11 milliion

June 9, 2018 • 12:00 pm

Grania sent me this tweet by Nicholas Christakis, who, with his wife Erika, was involved in Yale’s Great Halloween Costume Debacle. The part on the left I knew: yes, colleges, to save money, are increasingly farming out instruction to adjuncts and part-time professors, who receive a pittance (and no benefits) for their work. But the part on the right, about the University of Michigan’s bloated diversity staff, was new to me. I decided to check it out.

And yes, as you can read at Intellectual Takeout—which appears to be a conservative site,—the story is true. This information has been published widely, and you can check it as the salaries and employees are public information.

Click on the screenshot to read the details:

First, there’s a graph of how college costs have risen precipitously in the last twenty years.

The cost of living calculator from 1997-2017 shows an increase of about 53%, but, as you see, the cost of college over that period has approximately doubled (an increase of about 100%). Why such a disparity? Miltimore’s article advances a hypothesis that seems to be generally accepted.

There are various reasons for surging costs, but the primary one is the remarkable expansion of university administration in recent decades. As Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado, wrote in the New York Times a few years ago:

“According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.”

One reason for an expanding administration is the enforcement of in loco parentis policies, as well as having a staff to deal with diversity issues. That’s not in itself bad, but diversity staffs, staffs dealing with “bias reports”, and so on, can get bloated. The one at the University of Michigan seems to have gotten out of control. As the article states:

Universities are large and require administrators to function, of course. The problem is there seems to be no end to the expansion. This point was recently illustrated by Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint. [JAC: he’s also Faculty Affiliate, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, at UM Flint.]

Perry, who also is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, used the University of Michigan as an example to highlight the rise of “diversicrats” (diversity bureaucrats) on today’s campuses. The numbers are astonishing.

1. The University of Michigan currently employs a diversity staff of nearly 100 (93) full-time diversity administrators, officers, directors, vice-provosts, deans, consultants, specialists, investigators, managers, executive assistants, administrative assistants, analysts, and coordinators.

2. More than one-quarter (26) of these “diversicrats” earn annual salaries of more than $100,000, and the total payroll for this small army is $8.4 million. When you add to cash salaries an estimated 32.45% for UM’s very generous fringe benefit package for the average employee in this group (retirement, health care, dental insurance, life insurance, long-term disability, paid leave, paid vacation, social security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, etc.) the total employee compensation for this group tops $11 million per year. And of course that doesn’t count the cost of office space, telephones, computers and printers, printing, postage, programs, training, or travel expenses.

Here are all the 93 employees’ salaries; you can verify Sellers’s salary here.

The highest salary, though, isn’t really higher then Trump’s. As President, The Donald earns $400,000 per year, and vice-Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Sellers is short by $3,450. If you include fringe benefits, his salary would rise above $400,000, but of course Trump gets fringe benefits like free housing, food, and medical care.

How many students could that $11,083,521 support? Here’s what it currently costs to attend the University of Michigan (click on screenshot to go to the page):

I calculate that Michigan’s annual diversity office budget would provide yearly tuition for 747 in-state students and for 233 out-of-state students, and full scholarships for 375 in-state students and 178 out-of-state students. In other words, since each diversity employee is getting paid, on average, $92,000, each one takes resources from the college that could fund 2-3 full-time scholarships for undergraduates (even more if you include just tuition waivers).

Diversity is a worthwhile goal of colleges, so long as it’s not just diversity of pigmentation, but also diversity of ideas, of politics, of social class, of background, of income, and so on. But 93 people ensuring that diversity at a single college seems way too much for me. Something’s gone wrong at the University of Michigan.

47 thoughts on “The University of Michigan’s “Diversity staff” comprises nearly 100 full-time employees, with a budget over $11 milliion

  1. “The University of Michigan’s ‘Diversity staff’ comprises nearly 100 full-time employees”

    I was so shocked and pleased to see someone use the word “comprises” correctly that I didn’t even bother reading the article.

    1. omg, that is exactly what I went to Comments for, to commend Jerry for the title! Substitute “contains” for “comprises” anytime and it will be correct. Nobody ever gets this right. But Jerry did! Yay!

  2. Yes, this is ridiculous. But let’s not overlook that this absurd tale is written upon the palimpsest of 400+ years in which higher education on this continent devoted approximately 100% of its budget to promoting non-diversity — the greatest affirmative-action program for WASPs in mankind’s history.

    1. I agree this is an important point to consider. But meanwhile costs are increasing b/c of increases in beaurocracy and for other reasons. This is a disproportional burdon on financially disadvantaged students.

      1. Exactly. Everyone wonders why in Quebec students go on strike from time to maintain their (low relative to the continent) tuition. The student leaders have said, repeatedly, that they protest the increased *proportion* that the student is required to pay out of pocket and the increased number of administrators which seem to be increasing “unjustly”, etc.

        It seems to me that they are more or less right about both. (They also point to places like Norway which do free tuition, last I checked. I agree there’s something important about that too, but that’s another level of complexity.)

    2. I don’t think robbing today’s youths and their families to support parasites and professional bullies corrects the injustices of the past in any way.

    1. It costs about a million bucks a pop in taxpayer dough for Trump (who did nothin’ but bitch about Obama’s travel and golfing) to take his near-weekly jaunts to his tacky shithole at Mar-a-Lago — more than the entire special counsel’s investigation (about which Trump also bitches constantly) has cost to date.

  3. Some of those are duplication positions, for example, there is a web designer/administrator position. I bet there are web designers scattered all over the university in various faculties and departments. Universities, I’ve learned the hard way, are notorious for decentralization. They are like small towns that can’t sentralize and fiefdoms arise all over the place, which is expensive but no one can agree to work any other way so the only thing you can do is try to federate through some sort of committee or governance structure. It’s a mess.

    1. If it’s like my school, the website is probably designed and templated by IT, and the “designer” positions are to update info for each department. That actually is an important job, since most departments are very bad at keeping their online info up to date.

      1. I see info update as a Communications position and I can see the need for many of those. Designers would be to design the layout etc and also make sure the website meets legislative requirements for accessibility and to liaise with IT to ensure security is met. To me, IT would provide the infrastructure as well as security assessments and any coding requirements above the basic. But that is my ideal. Often things don’t fall out this way.

  4. 11 million to pay for something I taught my kids when they were six: be kind to one another. The backlash to the right is causing so much disaster it will take some time to get through this.

  5. Very noneducational of Michigan University. They probably could have paid the salaries of two head football coaches with all that money. Payroll and fringe is the highest cost of nearly every business in the world. If you want to reduce costs you must reduce people. This looks like a good place to start in the firm at Michigan.

  6. I’ve seen a variety of explanations for the rising cost of post-secondary education; figuring this out seems pretty straightforward to me, so I’m surprised there’s any disagreement. Common explanations:

    1) Admin costs
    2) Reduce government subsidies,
    3) Increased amenities provided to students, and
    4) Baumol’s cost disease

  7. Ok, that sucks. So, how do we fight this insanity? Seriously, what can we possibly do to fight this waste of funds? University students and families are screwed. By republicans who want to cut funding, by sports, which siphons off valuable education funds, by admin who are paid quite handsomely, and now by diversity leeches (anyone care to wager how diverse the diversity leeches are, politically, socio-economically, etc.).

    I wonder, how many PoC’s fail to get scholarships from universities just so diversity leeches can land a comfy, privileged middle class job? Well done, leftistas.

    1. I wonder whether someone couldn’t force a referendum on exactly that trade off: fire 100% of these people, and spend 100% of the money saved on new fellowships solely for the underprivileged. (And solely for majors with average pay about $80k or something, ideally.)

      It would be worth trying just for the resulting debate. Get every diversity and inclusion officer behind a podium to argue why her job makes it worth excluding N students.

  8. The increase in adjunct positions and stagnation in pay, along with larger classes, increased teaching loads and pressure to increase pass rates is part of the depressing commodification of higher education, in which actual excellence in education continues to fall in importance while retention and graduation rates gain greater priority.

    And this change in priorities is what justifies ever larger administrations.

  9. Is it ironic that the 4 highest paid positions are men and all the low paid administrative assistants are all women? How does the Equity and inclusion department explain this apparent glass ceiling?

    Now, Sellers certainly has the chops for a leadership position but he also makes more than most corporate CEO’s. However, he’s also a distinguished professor, so I wonder how much of the listed salary is due to his tenure rather than this equity role, or yet, whether his salary as a professor is separate and his total compensation from the University of Michigan is yet higher still.

  10. In related regressive leftista news, the BBC just put up a story about Penguin books and their switch to an ideology-driven, rather than quality-driven, book selection process. Author Lionel Shriver is raising a stink about this. Go over to BBC news, read it and see what you think.

  11. I’d have thought that the more diverse the student body is, the fewer diversity officers you need. It’s when the student body lacks diversity that diversity officers are needed the most.

    The goal of diversity officers should be the eventual abolition of themselves. If they are planning on expanding their role they have a disincentive to tackle the underlying problem.

    1. Since when did any bureaucracy *ever* abolish itself?

      (How the hell do you administrate diversity anyway?)

      It’s all just corporate wanking (to put it in sufficiently vulgar terms. This sort of thing brings out the vulgar in me, I’m afraid).


  12. The table is very misleading as it combines both administrators and staff members under the pejorative description of “bureaucrat”. The woman responsible for meetings and special events is not doing any sort of job that we would think of as contributing to “bureaucracy”.

    It also lumps research centers focused on diversity research with university offices overseeing the university’s diversity procedures. I don’t see how an academic research center is promoting “bureaucracy”.

    Also because academic centers are included in this list, some of the people listed likely have their salaries paid for by grants or gifts and cost the university significantly less than their sticker price.

    Overall, I think the spin being put on the information contained in the table is highly misleading.

  13. I think the problem is not limited to universities or the US. I can think of some Depts of Health in SA for example.
    As a (generous) rule I’d say that if administration & management eats more than a quarter of the budget, there is something seriously wrong, and the organisation becomes ineffective. It should be less than 10% of course, but as said I’m generous.
    One problem not really mentioned is that a ‘heavy’ admin invents all kinds of administrative forms, rules, documentation, evaluation, reports due and other paperwork (they have to create a reason for their existence, of course) for the ‘in the field workers’, making the burden of an administration on proper work even greater. In fact, much of their work is carried out by the ‘in the field workers’.
    (Yes, you guessed it I’m not an administrator, but an in the field worker 🙂 )

    1. Any administration needs data to process and procedures to administer in order to justify its existence. And where does it get this data? And where does it impose these procedures? Why, the field workers, of course.

      There’s a natural tendency, if you’re busy doing an actual job, to think that you can save time on some of the more pointless peripheral tasks by getting an administrative assistant. Do not do this! This never works! The administrative ‘assistant’, having established themselves like a parasite invading the host, will not only make you the worker do all the pointless tasks you had to do already but will proceed to invent further forms to fill in and procedures to carry out ad infinitum. And since they will have established themselves as gatekeepers of the budget, you will find that they now have all the power and you are working for them.


      1. Sorry Nicky, I seem to have echoed your comment. Evidently we have had similar experiences with ‘admin’.


  14. I wonder how The University of Michigan compares with other universities?

    According to the facts and figures web page of the university, there are 46,002 students at the An Arbor campus, and 9,339 and 7,836 at Dearborn and Flint.

    Total employment is 29,745, which excludes Michigan Medicine.

    Given these figures, that makes one diversity person per about 460 students if all of those employees are at the An Arbor campus. I have no idea how that compares with other large universities. Nor do I have any idea whether this ratio is actually needed.

  15. Brett Weinstein explained that the turmoil at Evergreen State started with President Bridges’ project of expanding the college administration, particularly the number and the authority of the Diversity and Equity officials. See:

    The 93 diversicrats at the U. of Mich., like those elsewhere, are something like the numerous officials of the Holy Office of the medieval Church. However, it should be noted that those officials were NOT employed at the universities of the time. The medieval universities were Catholic by consensus, but maintained no special offices for rooting out heresy, and no workshops to “retrain” miscreants whose thinking strayed from the orthodox doctrine.

    multiplication of

    1. When your political movement goes well beyond the medieval Catholic Church in persecuting unbelievers at universities, you (should) know that you’ve gone way, way, way too far.

      But these idiots see this as a feature, rather than a bug.

  16. How much would it cost to instead have a first-class biologist run a mandatory session for all incoming freshmen and any transfer students on the evidence that all H sapiens emerged from Africa (or stayed there) ~80K yrs ago, and that we all share that commonality?

    If you like, call students in randomly to test them on the basics of that session.

  17. Interesting post.

    It’s in some ways surprising, but when you consider how colleges live in a total economic twilight zone, it makes a lot more sense why they spend the way they do.

    The problem is really that universities have zero consequences for anything they do. Universities look at students and see that they essentially have an unending pool of customers with the ability to pay far beyond their current and even potential income due to the availability of student loans.

    On top of that, a degree is pretty much just a signal to companies that you are a good worker which then makes it so that the University doesn’t even need to provide you with the best service it can since you being properly educated or not is of no consequence to them. The way the system is set up makes it so that the universities don’t even need to bear the risk of you not paying your loans back, so what do they care if you do well after you graduate?

    The result is that the university has a ton of money they can freely spend however they want, and thus you get 100 “diversity” administrative staff members.

  18. OTOH, maybe there was some edict requiring them to spend as much on non-athletic things as they do on athletics, and this was one of the solutions.

  19. This is just another example of the ever-expanding university administration. In addition to creating positions ex nihilo, another favored tactic is to create a new, more senior position of an existing position, such as Senior Vice President or Senior Vice Provost, which has the dual benefit of increasing the pay of one administrator and adding yet another person to the administration. The running joke among the faculty is that ultimately there will be one adjunct faculty teaching all of the courses and the rest of the folks will be an administrator of some sort.

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