University of Arkansas to Dissolve DEI Office

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On Tuesday, University of Arkansas (UA) Chancellor Charles Robinson announced the school will begin redistributing staff and resources from the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into other campus units.

Starting this fall semester, employees currently assigned to the DEI office will be relocated to Student Success, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, and University Advancement positions, the nonprofit news source Arkansas Advocate reports.

In addition, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance will be reorganized under Human Resources but will still report directly to the chancellor’s office.

“It is my belief based on my experience as having served as Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Provost — and now as Chancellor — that we can accomplish better outcomes by reallocating resources into these essential areas,” Robinson wrote in a campus-wide email. “We must strengthen our ability to achieve measurable results that enhance opportunity for all Arkansans.”

The move comes as Arkansas Republicans and multiple GOP lawmakers in other states across the nation move to defund DEI programs at higher education institutions. Senate Bill 71, a measure intended to eliminate state-sponsored affirmative action programs, was introduced in the Arkansas legislature in January but was eventually tabled by a House panel in March.

“Aligning resources directly to the ‘front lines’ of our support for student success and employee recruitment and development will provide direct access, achieve measurable results and help us better fulfill our land-grant mission for which we are accountable to the people of Arkansas,” UA Director of Media Relations John Thomas said in a statement to the Arkansas Advocate.