'Toxic' | University of Florida slashes all D&I jobs and initiatives in major pullback

University of Florida slashes all D&I jobs and initiatives in major pullback

The University of Florida (UF) has decided to eliminate all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions and initiatives following a new state regulation prohibiting such programs.

The decision, outlined in an administrative memo from the university, marks a stark departure from previous efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on campus.

According to the memo, UF has terminated all DEI positions, closed the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, and ceased contracts with external vendors focused on DEI initiatives.

This move aligns with Florida Board of Governors regulation 9.016, which defines DEI as any program or policy promoting differential treatment based on race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The $5million previously allocated for UF's DEI efforts, including salaries and expenditures, will now be redirected to a retirement fund for faculty members.

“The University of Florida is — and will always be — unwavering in our commitment to universal human dignity,” the memo said, which was signed by J. Scott Angle, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Amy Meyers Hass, Vice President and General Counsel and Melissa Curry, Vice President for Human Resources.

“As we educate students by thoughtfully engaging a wide range of ideas and views, we will continue to foster a community of trust and respect for every member of the Gator Nation,” the memo said. “The University of Florida is an elite institution because of our incredible faculty who are committed to teaching, discovering, and serving.”

The state regulation also prohibits the use of state funds for DEI programs and political or social activism endorsed by the university. Governor Ron DeSantis praised Florida for being the first state to eliminate DEI initiatives, calling them "toxic" and asserting they have no place in public universities.

However, critics have voiced concerns about the decision, including Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford, who described it as out of step with the values expected of a public institution. Others, such as Andrew Gothard, President of the United Faculty of Florida union, see the move as an attempt to silence dissenting voices and stifle academic freedom.

Faculty members affected by the elimination of DEI positions will receive standard severance packages and have reportedly been encouraged to apply for other available positions within the university.

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