- The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will discontinue its diversity, equity and inclusion office, Chancellor Charles Robinson announced in an email to the campus Tuesday.
- DEI office employees will have the option to move to new positions in the departments of student success, student affairs, university advancement, human resources, or equal opportunity and compliance, Robinson said. DEI resources will also be distributed across those five departments.
- Changes will be effective August 1, according to a university spokesperson. More details are expected in the coming weeks.
In an email Wednesday, University of Arkansas spokesperson Mark Rushing described the move to dissolve the DEI department as a "restructuring to align resources directly to the 'front lines'" of the university's student and employee support structures.
Asked if university officials were concerned the DEI department would be targeted by the Arkansas Legislature, Rushing said the university is always "respectful of the laws, regulations, and various viewpoints on how we carry out our mission."
"From an educational standpoint and as an employer, we believe that this is the best way to fulfill our land-grant mission of access and opportunity for all," he said.
DEI departments and initiatives are increasingly under attack at public colleges, often by Republican lawmakers in their states. Florida dealt one of the most crushing blows seen so far, banning spending on DEI programs at its dozens of public institutions. In some instances, like in Iowa, calls to pause or reevaluate DEI spending have come from the state systems' governing boards.
At the federal level, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, introduced a bill that would block accrediting agencies from considering DEI and affirmative action policies in the accreditation process.
The Arkansas Legislature did not have pending bills targeting colleges’ DEI programs as of June 9, according to a tracker from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
But this year, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law a ban on teaching K-12 students critical race theory — a college-level academic concept not typically included in school curriculums that teaches racism is systemic. Critics claim it reinforces racial divides and prejudices.
Earlier this year, the Arkansas state Senate also approved a proposed ban on affirmative action with state and local agencies, though the bill failed to pass the House. Both parts of the state's Legislature, as well as the governor's mansion, are Republican controlled.