EXCLUSIVE: Public university spent $53k on DEI training

Iowa State University spent over $53,000 on two contracts with The Barthwell Group for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training.

ISU was one of a dozen public universities that spent over $230,000 on DEI training in the last two decades.

A Campus Reform Freedom of Information Act request has found that Iowa State University (ISU) signed multiple diversity training contracts in 2012 and 2013 worth $53,000.

The combined cost of the contracts is worth $63,482.86 in November 2021 dollars when calculating from May 2013, the date of the second contract, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator

In 2012, a group of “concerned” faculty and staff at ISU met to “re-establish” the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) in an effort to “fill a void to serve Black faculty and staff.” 

That same year, ISU signed its first agreement with The Barthwell Group, a consulting firm that implements DEI trainings.

First Contract

The contract was developed specifically for the Department of Aerospace Engineering at ISU and comprised five steps. 

First, a meeting was arranged with the chairman of the department to develop a “work plan” for the consulting arrangement. The Group then reviewed summaries and data from the department’s previous “surveys and assessments regarding diversity and inclusion” and prepared a summary that identified “specific enhancement needs.” 

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: How 12 public universities spent $230K on DEI training over 20 years]

Steps 3-5 were centered around the “Pilot Inclusion Action Plan” created by The Barthwell Group. According to the agreement, the group developed “specific actions” that “develop[ed] a minimum of two additional sustainable sources of highly qualified diverse candidates.” They further helped ISU create “activities” and programs to “enhance Aerospace’s inclusion environment.” 

Step 4 involved the facilitation of an “Inclusion Workshop” described as a “maximum of three hours” with a “maximum of 20 aerospace stakeholders (students, faculty, staff).” Following this training, the group wrote a summary of the workshop for ISU, but it was “not to exceed three pages.”  

This first program cost ISU $24,976. 

Second Contract

The 2013 agreement was a four-part plan separated into 10 deliverables. 

The agreement was intended for the Aerospace Engineering Department and was slated from May 2013 to April 2014. It included similar services to the first contract and included four steps.

Each deliverable was categorized and given a milestone payment amount.

The framework for the summer program cost $1,500, while the most expensive service listed was a “PowerPoint executive summary analyzing the findings from the comparative research on best practices for minority pipeline programs” priced at $6,000.

In total, the 2013 contract cost ISU $28,252, which brought the combined expenditures to $53,228.

Student Reaction

Ryan Hurley, President of the College Republicans at ISU, expressed his concerns about the spending in an email to Campus Reform.

“I believe any amount is too much for these ludicrous trainings that only seek to provide anti-white CRT nonsense. These trainings tend to be sparsely attended and provide no benefits to the vast majority of students,” Hurley wrote.

He continued by noting his distaste for the very high cost of this training. 

“I would support the school being financially conservative so as to lower the cost of tuition,” he stated. “That could start with removing these trainings and removing fields that do not provide value ([w]omen and [g]ender studies being a prime example).” 

University History

ISU has a lengthy history of diversity and inclusion efforts. In the 1970s, the school expanded these efforts by establishing the Office of Multicultural Affairs and instituting a Director of Multicultural Student Affairs

The BFSA, a “collective of diverse staff and faculty that connects Black communities, actively addresses institutional issues that may impact minoritized groups, and advocates for equitable opportunities,” still exists at ISU.

Furthermore, each ISU department, including Aerospace Engineering, has a “Diversity and Inclusion” statement on the website. The engineering department states that they are “committed to diversity, inclusion, access and academic success.”

[RELATED: Seton Hall is hiring a student to research the university’s DEI, social justice environment]

The college has also announced a new program called “Inclusion,” which was set to begin in the Fall 2021 semester.

Additionally, ISU includes a list of “Diversity and Inclusion Reports” on their website that dates back to 2016.

In the 2016 - 2017 school year, 56.2% of initiatives at the school were centered on “richness of diversity.”

In 2017 - 2018, the number decreased to 38.02% before spiking back to 48% during the 2018-2019 year. Currently, the report reads 48.72% of school initiatives focus on “richness of diversity.”

Campus Reform reached out to ISU; the story will be updated accordingly.