Ramsey: “Heads need to roll” in UT diversity flap — one in particular

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said today that “heads need to roll” at the University of Tennessee following a Web post that cautioned against Christian-oriented holiday activities — but not that of UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek; apparently only that of Rickey Hall, who heads the UT Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Jeff Woods has lenthy quotes from the Ramsey commentary in a Friday meeting with media:

Ramsey said Chancellor Jimmy Cheek can keep his job because he claims to have been in the dark on the whole thing, but Ramsey said he’s told Cheek that Hall has got to go.

“Let’s think this through logically,” Ramsey said. “You have an office of diversity and inclusion where the person running it makes the taxpayers pay him $175,000 a year, basically the same salary as the governor, to think up this crap. That’s all I can possibly say. Their policy is not about inclusion. It’s just the opposite. It stifles freedom of speech. It stifles freedom of religion and it’s amazing to me that something like this needs to be put in writing on some kind of official website.”

Ramsey said “this is not the right-wing radicals. This is not the tea party people that are out here saying this is crazy.” No, he said, ordinary people everywhere across the state are angry about this and raging about it even as they “go to Hardee’s to pick up their morning biscuit.”

…Once Hall departs, Ramsey said, it’ll be time for the legislature to chop the university’s funding for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

“I’m for diversity. I’m for inclusion. This is exactly the opposite of that. What are they doing with $5 million? It needs to be examined closely to see if the same thing can’t be done for $1 million.”

…”Rickey Hall, who I wouldn’t know if he walked in here … it galls taxpayers that this is a taxpayer-funded position. He gets paid $175,000 a year apparently to do nothing but to sit around and think up stuff like this. It galls people that this is happening. I think that position needs to go.”

Note: See also The Tennessean HERE and The Commercial Appeal, HERE.

Excerpt from the latter:

UT Knoxville spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said today, “The Lieutenant Governor and Chancellor Cheek spoke earlier in the week and he is aware of his position.”

…UT has said the current year’s budget for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, with three staffers, is $436,722. The $5 million figure cited by Ramsey and other critics of UT’s diversity efforts is for the entire UT statewide system and includes estimates for all diversity-related expenditures, including federal requirements on gender equity and efforts for recruitment and enrollment. Using UT’s overall revenue model of about 63 percent tuition and fees and 31 percent state appropriations, about $135,000 of the $436,722 directly spent by Hall’s office would be funded from state appropriations, according to UT officials.