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University of Wyoming shutters DEI Office; vice provost position to be created

University of Wyoming (University of Wyoming, UW Alumni Association, Facebook)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The University of Wyoming announced Friday that it is closing its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office.

The announcement of the office closure came via a university news release. The decision was supported by the institution’s board of trustees, as well as UW President Ed Seidel. Seidel and the trustees reviewed comments from the campus community. Pressure from state legislators influenced the institution’s decision to ax its diversity efforts as well.

“We received a strong message from the state’s elected officials to change our approach to DEI issues,” Seidel said in the university’s release. “At the same time, we have heard from our community that many of the services that might have incorrectly been categorized under DEI are important for the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

According to the release, the Wyoming Legislature removed $1.73 million from the university’s upcoming biennium budget. A footnote in the budget also instructed the university not to allocate any of the state funds toward the DEI office starting July 1.

In addition to the office closing, the University of Wyoming will also no longer allow job candidates to submit statements regarding DEI. Furthermore, DEI will no longer be considered a factor in employees’ annual performance reviews.

Duties formerly handled by the DEI office will be reassigned to other campus units, according to the release. Some of the duties include Title VI compliance, religious accommodations and Americans with Disabilities Act coordination. In addition, a vice provost position will be created to assist in transitioning these duties.

“We understand these changes are difficult for some people to accept, just as there are some people who will see the changes as insufficient,” Seidel said in the news release. “What I can say is that we are moving forward the best we can to meet the expectations of elected officials and the people of Wyoming and continue serving our students and communities.”

The university will continue to train employees on nondiscrimination practices and work to protect academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Discourse surrounding DEI has been a hot-button topic statewide and nationwide in recent months. Earlier this year, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox banned DEI training, hiring and inclusion activities at universities and at the state government, per NPR. Wyoming legislators attempted to ban DEI efforts earlier this year with Senate File 0130. The legislation failed its introduction when it got to the House.