InsiderAdvantage: Lieutenant Governor Gets DEI Answers, Non-Answers

Phil Kent

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue answered questions from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones in a 200-page letter admitting that millions of dollars of taxpayer money is spent on building a “diversity, equity and inclusion” bureaucracy within the USG’s 26 educational institutions. This now causes Jones and state lawmakers to further question DEI policies, programs and expenditures that cause racial division.  

The chancellor told Jones that the 26 universities are now “reviewing” recruitment practices to make sure no applicants or new hires are asked or required to sign DEI statements involving race or racial classifications. 

One concern, for example, involves Valdosta State University– a circumstance recently uncovered by InsiderAdvantage guest columnist Gary Wisenbaker. “Valdosta State University’s Department of Education and the Valdosta City School system,” he says, “announced a partnership that they received a $300,000 grant from Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity to “transform the standards of teacher preparation.’” 

“Branch Alliance of Educator Diversity is headed by Dr. Patricia Alvarez McHatton,” he continues. “She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Educator Diversity which takes the position that ‘it is clear to nearly anyone living in the United States today that we never did become a post-racial society.  Racial tensions are more heated and visible now than at any point in recent memory.’” 

Wisenbaker notes that Valdosta State University, with a 47%-38% white to black student body composition, has no recent history of conflict– yet race is a target of its Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion. Its director, he says, recently explained the department’s manifesto and premise as: “”What can really be said to adequately speak to the atrocities of social injustice, police brutality, racism and division we currently face.” 

Jones and other state lawmakers are concerned that some of these programs promote divisiveness, as this Valdosta example underscores. In fact, last week’s U.S, Supreme Court ruling against race-based college admission policies is a warning. The Wall Street Journal editorially notes that “equity programs that divide and classify by race should be put on notice that they will face legal challenges.” 

These programs also face cost questions. The Perdue letter indicates that many schools have showered money on chief diversity officers, dozens of staffers and burgeoning programs. 

At Georgia Southern University, for instance, the $189,000-a-year associate vice president for inclusive excellence “has primary responsibility for leading inclusion efforts through the development and implementation of policies, procedures and mission aligned curriculum activities guided by principles of diversity, inclusion, transparency and shared governance.”  

Georgia Tech reported an $8 million-a-year expenditure of state funds for the “equity” programs, with 66 full-time staffers and six federally mandated positions and seven part-time staffers. The effort is led by a vice president of institute diversity, equity and inclusion who the report says earns $281,000 a year.  

Georgia’s lieutenant governor and state lawmakers are still studying Perdue’s report and insiders tell us that more questions and investigations will be pursued. 

Pushback against college DEI bureaucrats and programs have also been occurring in other states. Campus changes pushed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis include blocking public colleges from spending state or federal money on DEI programs. And Texas passed a law to shut down DEI offices at its public colleges.