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University of Florida terminates all DEI positions to comply with new law

The University of Florida announced Friday that it had terminated all of its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) related positions to comply with a new state law that bars state colleges from using state or federal money to fund the programs.

The rule, which the Florida Board of Education implemented in January, said strict regulations would be put on the Florida College System about the use of tax dollars to support DEI. The board said DEI programs are “programs that categorize individuals based on race or sex for the purpose of differential or preferential treatment.”

The University of Florida leadership said in a memo Friday it had closed its Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, eliminated DEI positions and administrative appoints and stopped DEI-focused contracts with third-party vendors.

University employees who lost their positions will receive the standard twelve weeks of severance pay and are encouraged to apply for “expedited consideration for different positions currently posted by the university.”

The school’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer will reallocate about $5 million formerly funding DEI expenses like salaries and expenditures to now go to a faculty retirement fund.

“Finally, the University of Florida is — and will always be —unwavering in our commitment to universal human dignity,” the memo said. “As we educate students by thoughtfully engaging a wide range of ideas and views, we will continue to foster a community of trust and respect for every member of Gator Nation.”

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. said at the time of the rule’s announcement that the actions will ensure taxpayer money won’t be spent on DEI and “radical indoctrination that promotes division in our society.” He said higher education needs to return to its “essential foundations of academic integrity” instead of “being corrupted by destructive ideologies.

The rule will affect 28 of Florida’s state schools.

It follows a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last year that bans public colleges from using tax dollars for DEI initiatives. It’s the latest in threats by conservatives against diversity programs, which they say is a threat to education.

DeSantis celebrated the University’s action in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities. I’m glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit,” he said.

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