UMich to award $1.5M to profs with ‘commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion’

These professors are tasked with simply “continuing their important work.”

The University of Michigan will select five professors each year to “recognize” for their “commitment” to diversity, by awarding them $100,000 each.

A program meant to “recognize and reward faculty for outstanding contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion” was established Thursday at the University of Michigan to the tune of $100,000 for each individual professor recognized.

Certain professors displaying a commitment to these values will be eligible to receive the honor of the newly founded Diversity and Social Transformation Professorships, according to a UMich news release.

[RELATED: Faculty diversity at near stand-still despite MILLIONS spent by universities]

In his letter recommending the new program to the board of regents, UMich Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Martin Philbert noted that the university plans to designate five of these professors annually. 

Each professor selected will receive an annual stipend of $20,000 for each of his or her first five years holding the title. The stipend is meant to fund the professors’ professional and scholarly labor, but those selected will apparently not be expected to take on any additional research or tasks other than to “continue their important work and forge new interdisciplinary collaborations in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion,” according to Philbert.

If the university meets its goal of designating five professors for this title each year, each class of appointees will receive a whopping $500,000 over their five year payment period, a number that scales up quickly to a total of $1.5 million after just five years of the program’s existence. Each consecutive year will cost an additional $500,000. The proposed plan makes no mention of any sort of expiration date for the program. 

[RELATED: Diversity chiefs drowning in dough]

“The breadth and depth of the university’s faculty expertise has led to innovative, often interdisciplinary, research and teaching that explores and addresses questions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our local communities, and extending beyond to global societies,” Philbert said.

The provost’s recommendation was approved Thursday by UMich’s Board of Regents. It is not clear what the criteria are for meeting the standard of “outstanding contributions” to diversity by a professor, but the first slate of appointees will be selected in the fall by “a university committee.”

A spokesperson directed Campus Reform to the provost’s recommendation letter when asked for comment. 

The announcement comes around the same time that Campus Reform reported on a study that brings into question the effectiveness of diversity spending. According to the South Texas College of Law’s Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy, diversity initiatives amounting to millions of dollars annually have done little to nothing to increase diversity on campus. 

This isn’t the first study to suggest multimillion-dollar diversity efforts may not be paying off. 

Another recent survey on which Campus Reform reported showed that a majority of students believe LGBT students face high levels of discrimination on campus, despite many schools pouring millions of dollars each year into diversity centers and diversity staff salaries in an effort to produce the opposite outcome. The University of California-Berkeley, for example, spends $2.3 million annually on diversity employee salaries while UCLA spends $3.2 million annually on diversity employee salaries. 

The lack of the desired outcome extends to the Ivy League as well. In October, Campus Reform reported on an internal study conducted by Columbia University showing a “lack of diversity” despite the school spending  $185 million to increase diversity. 

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