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Hiring diversity officers at colleges doesn’t increase diverse faculty, study finds

Does the hiring of diversity officers on college campuses make a difference?

Colleges are hiring diversity officers to help increase awareness of how diverse the cultures are at the college level along with implementing and recruiting  more diverse faculty members.

Many universities have hired chief diversity officers, but often times a lack of support from top leaders at the schools generally lead to doomed public relations stunt. Now, a new study suggests that such positions do not move the needle to increase cultural awareness and faculty diversity.

Such diversity officers are hired from at the cabinet-level leadership of the mainly larger schools and approach salaries of six figures.

So, are diversity officers making a difference?

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that the hiring of diversity officers at universities does not increase faculty diversity.

The study, which was published in August, argues the following:

As the American college student population has become more diverse, the goal of hiring a more diverse faculty has received increased attention in higher education. A signal of institutional commitment to faculty diversity often includes the hiring of an executive level chief diversity officer (CDO). To examine the effects of a CDO in a broad panel data context, we combine unique data on the initial hiring of a CDO with publicly available faculty and administrator hiring data by race and ethnicity from 2001 to 2016 for four-year or higher U.S. universities categorized as Carnegie R1, R2, or M1 institutions with student populations of 4,000 or more. We are unable to find significant statistical evidence that preexisting growth in diversity for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups is affected by the hiring of an executive level diversity officer for new tenure and non-tenure track hires, faculty hired with tenure, or for the university administrator hires.

The author of the study, Professor Steven Bradley of Baylor University, said hiring a chief diversity officer is to create a perception that universities are committed to diversity.


Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Michael

    September 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Sorry, but there is not much to this piece. I have ambivalent feelings about the use of our limited university resources to hire more administrators and people in these positions as well. However, it is almost common knowledge that the hiring of such people is not a part of faculty hiring or does it necessarily increase diversity which is accomplished in part through the admissions procedures.

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