Diversity Forever

Heather MacDonald, City Journal, September 20, 2012

The University of California, San Diego has done it again. Last year, it announced the creation of a new diversity sinecure: a vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Campus leaders established this post even as state budget cuts resulted in the loss of star scientists to competing universities, as humanities classes and degree programs were eliminated to save money, and as tuition continued its nearly 75 percent, five-year rise. The new vice chancellorship was wildly redundant with UCSD’s already-existing diversity infrastructure. As the campus itself acknowledges: “UC San Diego currently has many active diversity programs and initiatives.” No kidding. A partial list of those “active diversity programs and initiatives” may be accessed here.

Now UCSD has filled the position and announced the new vice chancellor’s salary. Linda Greene, a diversity bureaucrat and law professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will pull in $250,000 a year in regular salary, but that’s just the beginning: she’ll receive both a relocation allowance of $60,000 and 100 percent reimbursement of all moving expenses, a temporary housing allowance of $13,500, two fully paid house-hunting trips for two to the San Diego area, and reimbursement for all business visits to the campus before her start date in January 2013. (By comparison, an internationally known expert in opto-electronics in UCSD’s engineering school, whose recent work has focused on cancer nanotechnology, received a little over $150,000 in salary from UCSD in 2011, according to state databases.) The UCSD press office did not respond to a request for the amount the university paid the “women-owned executive search firm with a diverse consulting team” it used to find Greene.

Last week, the UC Regents, the university’s lay overseers, approved the new vice chancellorship and its compensation package, as first reported in the San Diego Reader. Since this summer, the regents have been shilling for Governor Jerry Brown’s $8 billion November tax initiative, arguing that the only way to save the university from financial and academic ruin is to jack up the state’s upper-bracket income and sales taxes. Their rubber-stamp approval of UCSD’s senseless new appointment, with its sky-high salary, shreds whatever remaining budgetary credibility they may have had. And of course the diversity machine is operating at fully funded throttle throughout the rest of the University of California; among the diversity initiatives that continue to cascade out of the president’s office and the individual campuses is an imminent $662,000, system-wide “campus climate survey” to track down the racism of UC’s faculty, staff, and students that is allegedly putting UC’s “most marginalized and vulnerable populations . . . at risk,” in the words of UC President Mark Yudof. If there are reasons to support the Brown tax initiative, rescuing an allegedly financially strapped UC that has made hard choices to survive is not one of them.

Greene’s salary and perks are, of course, just the start of what her tenure as San Diego’s new VC for EDI will cost taxpayers. If we are to believe UCSD’s syntactically challenged press office, this new vice chancellorship is a position of extraordinary complexity and challenge: It “will require creativity and innovation to establish the role and organizational structure to enable achievement of the campus’ strategic diversity goals.” The new VC for EDI will therefore undoubtedly also require a staff of massive proportions to support the expected “creativity and innovation.” As a benchmark, UC Berkeley’s own vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, Gibor Basri, whose princely salary of $200,000 suddenly looks piddling by comparison with Greene’s, presides over a staff of 24, up from 17 a mere year ago. Estimating conservatively, a comparably bulked-up office for San Diego’s new VC for EDI will run taxpayers close to $1 million a year, even before the VC’s salary is added in. That million-plus could easily pay for over a dozen new professors just starting their careers or for scholarships for many more promising graduate or undergraduate students.

Despite UCSD’s desperate efforts to give substance to this new appointment, there is in fact nothing for Greene and her staffers to do that isn’t already being done. Every department at UCSD faces unrelenting pressure to hire females and “underrepresented minorities,” i.e., blacks and Hispanics—Asians and Indians, of course, counting as honorary whites for the sake of the diversity crusade. {snip}

The creation of a massive diversity bureaucracy to police the faculty for bias against women and URMs can be justified only if there is evidence that the faculty need such policing. No one has yet presented a single example of UC San Diego’s faculty discriminating against a highly ranked female or URM candidate because of skin color or gender. The opposite is of course the case: female and URM Ph.D.s enjoy enormous advantages in the hiring market at UCSD and everywhere else. {snip}

Diversity advocates try to mask the vacuousness of their enterprise with two strategies. First, the diversophile pretends that a new diversity initiative is the first time that the relevant institution has ever embarked on such an endeavor. {snip}

The second strategy consists of dressing up “diversity” activities with speciously technocratic rhetoric. In trying to portray diversity bean-counting as something akin to an actual skill, use of the phrase, “metrics,” is de rigueur. A diversity bureaucrat doesn’t count females and minorities, she uses “metrics,” as Chancellor Khosla explained in the same email: “Additionally, the [diversity strategic] plan will include metrics to ensure that we are employing best practices that both research and experience show have a real impact.” “Holistic” is another favored term. In arguing for regent approval of Greene’s astronomical salary and perks, the UC Office of the President in Oakland noted that the new VC for EDI would be “responsible for providing a holistic and integrated vision on all major equity, diversity and inclusion efforts at UC San Diego.”


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