Rutgers went on DEI spending spree before governor’s demand for financial transparency

As NJ Gov. Phil Murphy seeks to make state universities more accountable for their spending, it's come to light that Rutgers increased part of its DEI spending by 135% between FY22 and FY23.

The legislative package proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy includes bills requiring public universities to submit an annual fiscal monitoring report and to make that report available on their websites.

As New Jersey considers legislation making public universities more accountable for their spending, Rutgers University’s budget shows massive increases in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) spending. 

In FY22, according to a budget document, Rutgers spent a total of $2,888,000 on expenses related to the Senior Vice President of University Equity and Inclusion. In FY23, increasing by 40.7 percent, that number jumped to $4,065,000.

Also in FY22, $668,000 went toward “salaries and wages” for the SVPIn FY23, that amount jumped to $1,571,000, a 135.3 percent increase.

[RELATED: DeSantis admin claims universities ‘significantly misreported and under-reported’ DEI spending: report]

The University Equity and Inclusion office conducted an equity audit and developed a strategic plan in light of its findings, outlining the university’s DEI goals. 

The strategic document reveals Rutgers’ plan to “recognize inclusive leadership as a necessary competency of supervisors,” “foster research focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” “expand conflict resolution and conflict mediation,” and “further equitable outcomes” through “consistent hiring, promotion, and advancement committee policies.” 

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) similarly allocated approximately $2 million for its Division of Inclusive Excellence, according to the proposed FY23 budget. The proposed budget includes a section for “Strategic Investments,” which shows a $100,000 increase from FY22 for projects in “We Are TCNJ: A Strategy for Inclusive Excellence.”

Rutgers is one of several public universities facing scrutiny for alleged financial mismanagement after reporting a deficit in its athletic program for FY21, according to Higher Ed Dive

The legislative package proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy includes bills requiring public universities to submit an annual fiscal monitoring report; to make that report, along with a report on the average time students take to graduate, available on their websites; and to provide training for governing board members. 

New Jersey Democrats recently proposed their own DEI spending spree, introducing a bill to create a “Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as [a] principal department” in the governor’s office. 

[RELATED: How Florida colleges help support the $9.5 billion DEI industry]

The “Commissioner of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” a proposed position appointed by the governor, would assume duties that include “attempt[ing] to use underrepresented financial businesses to provide brokerage and investment management services,” “consulting and assisting on diversity, equity, and inclusion in investments by the State,” as well as “consulting and assisting on diversity, equity, and inclusion in procurement by the State and its political subdivisions.”

The office would also oversee each agency’s DEI strategic plan. 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.