A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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$8.4 Million Per Year for U-M Diversity Employees

Of nearly 100 full-time 'diversicrats,' 26 get more than $100,000

The University of Michigan employs nearly 100 full-time diversity-related administrative staffers, costing almost $8.4 million a year, according to a recent analysis. Over a quarter of the staff (26) collect annual salaries of over $100,000.

The numbers come from an analysis done by Mark Perry, an adjunct scholar for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the American Enterprise Institute. Perry is also a finance professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.

The 93 diversity-related administrators — or “diversicrats,” as Perry calls them — cost the university $11 million annually in total compensation, which includes salaries and estimated fringe benefits. The positions range from the chief diversity officer to program managers and administrative assistants in various offices and centers. Many of the positions are paid for through the university’s general fund, while diversity-related administrative positions in the health system are paid for by patient care revenues.

Perry calculated that “the $11 million payrolls for the 93 U-M ‘diversicrats’ could support 765 in-state students per year with full tuition scholarships” in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts, where tuition is $14,500 a year.

The highest-paid employee is Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, who makes $396,550 annually. He is also a professor of psychology and education. Michigan Capitol Confidential previously reported that Sellers’ position was created as part of the university’s five-year, $85 million diversity plan. In 2016, Sellers made $385,000.

David Brown, associate dean in the Office for Health Equity & Inclusion, or OHEI, makes $220,000 annually, and Gary Freed, faculty lead in the same office, makes over $218,000. OHEI “develops mechanisms for inclusion, diversity and cultural sensitivity among faculty, students and staff, and staff at Michigan Medicine.”

Perry noted that OHEI has at least 19 full-time staffers whose salaries, with fringe benefits, total $2.1 million a year.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said OHEI is funded through patient care revenues.

“The office serves both the Medical School and the university’s health system (hospitals) by promoting inclusion, diversity and cultural sensitivity among faculty, students and staff,” he said.

Tabbye Chavous, director of the university’s National Center for Institutional Diversity, makes $175,950 annually. (Chavous is married to Robert Sellers.) The center’s mission is “to create a more equitable and inclusive society, we produce, catalyze, and elevate diversity research and scholarship.”

Other administrators involved in implementing the university’s $85 million diversity plan, like Katrina Wade-Golden and Judy Lawson, make $167,000 and $164,800, respectively.

Three employees who work under Robert Sellers — Mary Boyce, Dilip Das, and Ellen Meader — have the job title “Assistant Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion and Academic Affairs,” and each makes over $134,000 annually, according to university records.

“As assistant vice provosts for diversity, equity and inclusion for academic affairs, Meader, Das, and Boyce each provide leadership in the areas of academic and faculty affairs,” Fitzgerald said. “Each oversees different academic programs, policies and priorities that are designed to ensure the quality of the educational experience for U-M students and to sustain an environment that encourages and supports academic excellence through diversity and inclusion. Their individual responsibilities range from [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] specific to other university-wide initiatives.”

The university’s diversity plan also includes expanded resources for bias-related incidents, like the Bias Response Team, as Michigan Capitol Confidential previously reported. The nonprofit civil rights group Speech First has filed a lawsuit, alleging that the team and the university’s disciplinary codes violate some students’ First Amendment rights.

The university received $314,589,100 in state appropriations in fiscal year 2017-18, the most for any college in Michigan. Under a House-Senate conference report budget currently pending before the two bodies, U-M will get $320,782,400 in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2018.