By Anna Miller and Scott Yenor
A recent Idaho Freedom Foundation report revealed that Idaho's public university system is spending nearly $6 million on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) administrators. A previous estimate in February 2022, found that spending on DEI administrators across Idaho’s higher education system was around $2.2 million. In two years, the cost of DEI administrators in Idaho universities almost tripled from $2.2 million to nearly $6 million.
DEI is a far-left ideology that divides the world into aggrieved minorities and oppressive majorities, reducing people to a group identity grounded in immutable characteristics. It manifests in higher education through large bureaucracies with offices focused on group identity and discrimination such as a Black Student Center, LGBT center, or women's center. Administrators engrain DEI in campus policies through speech codes or race and gender quotas among other discriminatory practices. The DEI regime has been revolutionizing American higher education for at least the last two generations. Our report shows how DEI has spread into Idaho’s institutions of higher education and makes recommendations for reversing the corruption they cause.
Our report found that Idaho's four public universities have 75 administrators dedicated to DEI and many have strategic plans and offices dedicated to DEI.
Idaho's public universities have continued to build out their DEI infrastructure in the face of legislative opposition. The Idaho legislature twice voted to stop the expansion of DEI and social justice in higher education. Each time the universities accelerated the growth of DEI on campus and ignored the legislature's directives. University officials have denied that they are building a DEI mission and at the same time they have said it is good that they are building DEI infrastructure. The University of Idaho has even used taxpayer money to hire an aligned law firm to investigate themselves and to show that there was no DEI on their campus.
Boise State University, Idaho's leading DEI institution, has hired the highest ranking DEI officer in Idaho, a vice provost for Inclusion and Belonging who earns a six-figure salary. BSU has more staff dedicated to promoting the DEI cause (34 employees) than any other of Idaho’s universities. The university’s DEI officers also reach deeper into university operations than other Idaho universities do. Administrators have continued to push policies in hiring and student recruitment, targeting certain identity groups and offering more DEI training, events, and workshops for faculty and students every year. Overall, BSU spends at least $2.7 million on DEI position salaries and benefits.
The University of Idaho (UI) is committed to advancing DEI on campus. The president has established a Council on Diversity and Inclusion with fifty members of six subcommittees to carry out the universities DEI goals and diversity plan. The UI president has repeatedly signed a diversity statement declaring that Diversity and Inclusion are “the core” of the university. It has at least 23 university-level administrators dedicated to implementing its DEI mission. UI employs the highest-paid DEI administrator of all Idaho’s public four-year universities, the chief diversity officer, Yolanda Bisbee, who earns a six-figure salary of $170,706. UI has one college-level
administrator dedicated to DEI, the director of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach at the College of Engineering and two deans of Inclusion at the College of Law and the College of Education, respectively. UI offers extensive DEI training to students and faculty. Training appears to be optional but universities with mature DEI infrastructures tend to mandate DEI training eventually. Overall, UI spends at least $1.9 million on DEI position salaries and benefits.
Idaho State University (ISU) has little DEI on its campus. The university’s strategic plans mention diversity and inclusion over the last five years but they have not set DEI benchmarks. The university has an Equity and Inclusion Committee and a dedicated director for the Office of Equity and Inclusion. However, there appear to be few DEI efforts at the college level. ISU does not have any college-level DEI committees or administrators yet. If patterns seen elsewhere repeat themselves, though, ISU will continue to build its small DEI office by hiring more personnel at the university level before building DEI infrastructure at the college level. Overall, ISU spends $841,113 on eleven DEI administrators.
Lewis Clark State College (LCSC) is beginning to commit to DEI according to its strategic plans of the last three years. The university is just getting started building its DEI infrastructure with a four-person administrative team that includes a director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and three administrators dedicated to a minority recruitment office. The president of LCSC has a President’s Diversity Commission whose goal, among other plans, is to support the diversity vision statement by promoting diversity in STEM fields, create diversity requirements in general education courses, establish more diversity professional development training, and recruit “racially and ethnically diverse students and faculty.” LCSC has established a twenty-eight-member DEI initiative and an antiracism faculty ambassadors program across campus. Total spending on DEI administrators is just $290,121.
The DEI regime has been growing in Idaho's public universities, primarily at BSU and UI, over the past four years. DEI is not as advanced in Idaho's higher education system as Texas A&M, Michigan or Tennessee. But Idaho's higher education system is trending upward in the DEI rankings. Experience shows that universities will not usually self-correct, since they are increasingly ideologically homogeneous. Change must come from the outside. Strong legislation directing universities to eschew discriminatory DEI efforts and return to their core missions is a good place to start.
Click here to get your free copy of IFF's comprehensive report on DEI in higher education.