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Study: Your College's Chief Diversity Officer Doesn't Actually Increase Diversity

"Chief Diversity Officers" are a relatively new title amongst college administrations across America. Their main job is to make sure that the composite of the school's faculty reflects the makeup of its student population. This diversity is typically dependent upon skin color, and not actual intellectual diversity. Nonetheless, colleges have become convinced that a "CDO" is needed to help the university grow and better educate incoming pupils. The only problem with this theory is that a recent study found that more often than not these people fail at their job.


A team of educators studied information regarding the hiring practices of CDOs from "2001 to 2016 for four-year or higher U.S. universities categorized as Carnegie R1, R2, or M1 institutions with student populations of 4,000 or more" based on publicly available information regarding faculty race and ethnicity. 

According to the study, "The trend for hiring executive level diversity officers began in the early 2000s. By 2016, approximately 65 percent of higher education institutions established a form of this executive position." 

But, the paper notes that  these professors were "unable to find significant statistical evidence that preexisting growth in diversity for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups is affected by the hiring of an executive level diversity officer for new tenure and non-tenure track hires, faculty hired with tenure, or for university administrators." 

One theory as to why CDOs fail to change their school's demographic is that they are rarely given the final say in the hiring process. Instead, most universities still allow the experts in their field to hire their new colleagues.. "It is possible this finding reflects the lack of authority the CDO has over hiring decisions. Hiring decisions are generally entrusted to departments given their expertise in the field. Cabinet-level officers might, in effect, have very little influence in decisions made at the department and college level," the Baylor team says. 


The paper concludes that the "inability to identify a significant effect should not be interpreted as an argument that an effect does not exist. Given the importance of this topic to the academic community, much additional work remains to be done." Likewise, it also says that "although important progress has been made in increasing faculty and administrator diversity from 2001 to 2016, we believe more work must be done to better understand barriers to increased diversity, and how they might be best addressed." 

Considering the fact that across America's best public universities, the average CDO salary is $175,088, surely this money can be better spent. Perhaps if the universities wanted to keep around a CDO, they should instead focus on bringing in more conservative professors. Recent studies show that liberal educators outnumber their right-leaning counterparts by a ratio of 12-1.

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