Gov. Bill Haslam allowed the bill that diverts about $436,000 from the University of Tennessee’s office of diversity and inclusion and into minority engineering scholarships during the next school year to become law without his signature on Friday, reports Richard Locker. The article includes a generic overview of UT diversity squabbling.
“This bill received considerable debate and discussion during legislative session, and the final form of HB2248 was revised so that its primary effect is to redirect administrative funding for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion for one year into scholarships for minority engineering students. Although I do not like the precedent of redirecting funds within a higher education institution’s budget, I find the ultimate outcome of the legislation less objectionable and am therefore letting it become law without my endorsement,” Haslam said in a message to the Legislature.
The governor’s action comes a day after the University of Washington announced that it is hiring UT Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall, who has been at the center of controversy and calls to defund his office. (Previous post HERE)
Note: The governor’s decision to go along with the legislative mandate coincides with UT’s announcement that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is being dismantled.
From the News Sentinel:
The University of Tennessee has disbanded its Office of Diversity, including eliminating four staff positions and a $131,365 operating budget… The reductions include Vice Chancellor for Diversity Rickey Hall, who has accepted a similar position with the University of Washington, an administrative assistant who has since accepted a job elsewhere in the university, and a graduate student, who has since graduated from UT.
Human Resources is also helping a fourth employee in her job search, including open positions within the university, Nichols said. All four will be paid through June 30, she said.
Meanwhile, Donna Braquet, director of the UT Pride Center, will resume her full-time position as an associate professor in the University Libraries department. A quarter of her salary had been covered by the Office of Diversity when she became director of the center.
…Chancellor Jimmy Cheek sent an email to the campus Friday afternoon, in which he said he was “saddened” but the decision.
“This in no way diminishes our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he wrote. “The new law doesn’t impact most of the funding for those efforts.
“I am committed to making sure each person is respected for who they are and that each person feels safe and valued on our campus.”