- The Economist presents a unique view of how campuses undercut growth in academic affairs through diversity hiring, arguing that these officials reduce investments in professors and academic staff through bloated salary, the need to hire reporting staff, and through the addition of mandatory programs for cultural awareness training.
- Citing statistics from controversial higher education think tanker Richard Vedder, the Economist article suggests that every dollar spent on diversity actually costs $2 at public universities and $3 at private schools as a result of mandatory reporting and compliance with federal diversity benchmarking standards.
- The report also says white male faculty members distance themselves from women and minority students for fear of complaints of micro-aggressions, a sign of decreasing freedom and engagement on campus.
The cost of a university or college hiring and retaining a diversity official is far less than the price of not having one, especially for campuses where animosity simmers around topics on the political or racial marginalization of certain groups of students and faculty members. The presence of a chief diversity officer signals several things, even if just from surface levels of investment and interest.
First, it shows that an institution is aware there may be problems on campus worth solving. Second, it is a sign that the campus community is better off when the perspectives of all stakeholders are acknowledged. Finally, it is an investment in the public relations element of when sociopolitical issues explode on campus.
Even if diversity offices are understaffed, underfunded and underutilized, they add additional experts and spokespersons on issues that can attract widespread media attention, sometimes in an instant. And more institutions are willing to make the investment in diversity officers for higher levels of leadership, as a result of the need to avoid controversies in their communities.