Madness in Madison: The University of Wisconsin’s latest diversity plan calls for “equity” in high-demand majors and the distribution of grades

July 16, 2014
The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy

Many American colleges and universities are in the thrall of “diversity,” but none more so than my institution, the University of Wisconsin. This spring, the university adopted a new plan that, according to Board of Regents policy, “[p]laces the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle.”

That is, promoting diversity appears to be more important than teaching students.

This Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence sailed through our Faculty Senate without the least bit of attention, much less the “sifting and winnowing” on which it prides itself.

Although much of the language is a thicket of clichés, no one dared challenge it. Moreover, there was no probing of the ramifications of the plan. Apparently, “diversity” has become such a sacred cow that even tenured professors are afraid to question it in any way.

To begin, the university’s justification for the new policy is difficult to understand: “Our commitment is to create an environment that engages the whole person in the service of learning, recognizing that individual differences should be considered foundational to our strength as a community.”

That language is mere education babble, but the Faculty Senate swallowed it whole. So did the academic staff and the students.

The plan¹s definition of diversity focuses on a wide array of differences that can be found in every enrolled student. Here’s what it includes:

Individual differences in personality, learning styles, and life experiences, and group or social differences that may manifest through personality, learning styles, life experiences, and group or social differences. Our definition of diversity also incorporates differences of race and ethnicity; sex; gender; and gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; age; country of origin; language; physical and intellectual ability; emotional health; socio-economic status; and affiliations that are based on cultural, political, religious, or other identities.

The list is so expansive that it leads one to conclude that every student is “diverse.” And I believe that is correct. Every student is different in so many ways that it makes no sense to say that some students “increase diversity” while others don¹t.

The new plan provides no information on how the addition of these “individual and group/social differences” can create an environment that “engages the whole person,” whatever that means. Based on my experience, I would have no idea how to incorporate these “differences” into my economics teaching.

I wish someone had asked what bearing these particular “individual and group or social differences” have on student learning. Most people believe that individual differences in intelligence, aptitude, motivation, commitment, high school class rank, ACT/SAT scores, and academic preparation are far more important in contributing to student learning.

Those latter differences, what most people view as indicators of academic excellence, indeed are appropriate considerations at an institution priding itself as being a world-class teaching and research university.

How will the university assemble information on these supposedly crucial “differences”? Most applicants will not be able to describe their “learning styles,” or how to characterize their “personalities,” or how to assess their “emotional health.” Moreover, many students would hesitate to disclose personal information about their “cultural, political, religious, or other identities.” Without that information, it won’t be possible to use them “in the service of learning,” assuming that this notion is something other than empty rhetoric.

To achieve the plan’s vague aims, the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee formulated five goals and thirty detailed recommendations. Unbeknownst to faculty senators, these goals and recommendations are based on the “Inclusive Excellence” framework adopted earlier by the Board of Regents. (See Agenda Item II.6 for the March 5, 2009, meeting of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents; in a PDF linked at the bottom of this page.)

That framework includes eight essential “working definitions,” among them the already-discussed diversity, as well as others: “compositional diversity,” “critical mass,” “inclusion,” “equity mindedness,” “deficit-mindedness,” “representational equity,” and “excellence.”

Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.”

It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.

Suppose there were a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science. Under the “equity” policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their “difference” group.

Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.

At the very least, this means even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students. It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over “inequitable” grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.

Is there any reason to believe that the UW system’s Inclusive Excellence plan implemented at UW-Madison is going to improve the education of its students? I can see no reason to think so. Actually, the contrary seems more likely.

One problem is that the obsession with all those non-academic details about students comes with a cost—the cost of good students who are not admitted because they don’t seem “diverse” enough. Also, some of the preferred, “diverse” students will be admitted with significantly weaker academic capabilities than their classmates.

Although campus officials regularly fail to publicize detailed results of their diversity programs, my investigations show that roughly a quarter of its “diverse” targeted minority students do not meet the competitive admission standard applied to other applicants. This means that the students UW-Madison is trying to help instead find themselves at an immediate academic disadvantage.

Moreover, the obsession with groups distracts everyone from what truly matters—whether or not each student makes the best academic progress.

The campus climate has worsened by constantly referring to minority students as “targeted” minority students, and in the process stigmatizing them. It has also led to an unseemly “us versus them” mindset among many of those students.

That manifested itself several years ago when Roger Clegg, general counsel of the Washington-based Center for Equal Opportunity came to Madison to report on his research showing that the university’s racial preference policy meant severe discrimination against white and Asian applicants. Two senior UW officials orchestrated a disgraceful pro-diversity mob-like student demonstration at the hotel near campus where Clegg was making his presentation.

The demonstrators burst in and shouted Clegg down until he left the building. (Peter Wood has a good account of the entire matter in this Chronicle piece.)

It is impossible for me to imagine anything less consistent with the values of any educational institution than organizing a mob to protest a talk. It is also impossible for me to think that such a thing could have happened at Madison but for the obsession with diversity that has been building for years.

The University of Wisconsin adopted its first diversity plan back in 1966 and every few years it launches a much-touted new one. During my 30-year teaching career at Madison, followed by more than a decade of retirement, I have seen not the slightest bit of evidence that the fixation on “diversity” has made the campus better in any respect.

I predict this new Inclusive Excellence plan will fail to produce its hoped-for utopian outcomes. In a few years, the university will hear demands for yet another diversity plan.

Achieving “diversity” is like sailing toward the horizon.

You never get there.

Download PDF file: Madness in Madison (428 k)

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Memorial Day Reflections: May 2014

Memorial Day Reflections: May 2014
W. Lee Hansen

Out of respect for the many Americans who fought and died fighting this country’s wars, I am always drawn to attend Memorial Day events. These gatherings are especially meaningful for two reasons.

As a child I remember our Memorial Day family drives to a little cemetery located a mile north of the crossroads known as North Cape, located on Highway 45, about 20 miles west of Racine, where we lived. We made these trips to decorate the graves of my mother’s Norwegian father who as a young man settled there in the late 1850s and later her mother who arrived as a child from Sweden in 1869. These annual excursions excited us children because car trips in the late 1930s were a real luxury. While at the cemetery and before a brief outdoor service began, we placed flowers on the graves of our grandparents as well as our great grandparents who had died many years earlier.

Though Decoration Day, as it was then known, sought to commemorate the Civil War dead, it had become a national holiday to honor the dead, whether or not they had served in the military. If any Civil War dead lay buried in the North Cape cemetery, I don’t recall. Fortunately, our grandfather did not enlist in the Scandinavian (mostly Norwegian) Regiment, which suffered severe casualties, including its Norwegian commander, Colonel Heg, whose statue stands at the southeastern corner of the Capitol Square in Madison.

The other reason is to honor the many members of our families who served in the nation’s wars—World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. My Dad served in the Navy during World War I; two uncles fought with the 32nd Division in France. Sally’s father led an infantry company through the fierce fighting in France; two other uncles served, one of them a doctor who was gassed and died several years after the war’s end, by then married and the father of two small children.

Skipping to World War II, an older brother with the 34th Division was killed in Italy in 1943; several cousins served overseas, one of them in far-off China. On Sally’s side, her brother flew bombing missions over the Polesti oil fields, a cousin fought in the Battle of the Bulge, another cousin was killed when his B-17 was shot down over Germany, and still another cousin served in the Women’s Army Corps. Several other cousins and boyfriends/husbands of relatives also served.

On to the Korean War. My two younger brothers and I served in the army, though fortunately not in Korea. Several cousins also served, one of whom was killed fighting in Korea.

When I think of this country’s wars, these people are always in my mind. They deserve to be honored, both the living and the dead, and taking part in Memorial Day services is one small way of doing so.

I usually attend the Memorial Day events at the State Capitol building here in Madison. This year I decided to drive the 80 miles to North Cape and the old North Cape cemetery where the 7:45 a.m. service was scheduled. Arriving early, I took time to visit the graves of our ancestors. The worn gravestone of our great grandparents, the last of whom died a century ago, had been replaced a few years ago. The gravestone of our grandparents is so weathered that the inscriptions are difficult to make out; soon that gravestone will also have to be replaced. Then I wandered about the cemetery, noting the names of families my mother and grandmother frequently mentioned when they talked about the “old days” in North Cape.

The Memorial Day ceremony was not an elaborate one. The American Legion Honor Guard from nearby Waterford assembled along the front edge of the cemetery. They faced the assembled crowd of about 35 local people, ranging from small children to one ancient man who must surely have been a WWII veteran.

The ceremony began with the calling of the roll, the names of the probably 15 members who died in the past year. As each name was called out, the response was “Not Present.” The leader of the group then read from General John Logan’s 1868 Proclamation establishing Decoration Day to honor the Civil War dead. The Lutheran minister, from the Norwegian Lutheran Church (established in 1850) across the road, quoted from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and followed with a reading from the Bible. The color guard then presented arms and fired the customary salute. This was followed by the sound of “Taps” coming from two buglers, one with the honor guard and the other echoing the sound from some distance.

The ceremony proved to be very moving. As always, it left me misty-eyed. What a sad but still glorious day, to honor the many who died too soon.

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Why the Rush to Endorse the New Diversity Plan?

May 3, 2014

Submitted to The Daily Cardinal

What accounts for the “rush” to vote at Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting
to approve a new UW-Madison diversity plan, FORWARD TOGETHER, developed
by the Provost-appointed Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee? The
effects of this new plan, both positive and negative, deserve much
fuller discussion than will be possible at the Senate’s final meeting of
the academic year.

Why not give Faculty Senators and their departments, not to mention the
general public, additional time to become better informed about the
plan, debate its strengths and weaknesses, and then decide how to vote?

The new plan raises two concerns. One is the vastly “Expanded Definition
of Diversity” (pp. 13-14) and what it means. The other is understanding
the new diversity “framework” called ”Inclusive Excellence.” (p. 14).
Reading these definitions will help readers understand the reasons for
my concerns.

The origins of this new approach should be made known. It was developed
and then unveiled in 2005 by the American Association of Colleges and
Universities, a Washington-based, higher education think tank, with the
help of funding from the Ford Foundation. The Inclusive Excellent
framework was brought to the UW System Board of Regents, which adopted
it in March 2009 after virtually no discussion.

There appears to have been no attempt to involve UW System faculties in
what clearly constitutes a major change in their “academic and
educational activities.” Within months, top UW-Madison officials very
quietly began to implement this framework without, as far as I can tell,
bringing this new approach to the attention of the Faculty Senate and
the faculty more generally. Why top administrators adopted that strategy
remains a mystery.

A review of the documents distributed to Regents when it endorsed the
Inclusive Excellence plan reveals significant details about Inclusive
Excellence that are not brought to light in the new diversity plan. The
document, “Working Definitions for Inclusive Excellence,” is most
informative. Among the definitions integral to Inclusive Excellence are
the following: Diversity, Compositional Diversity, Critical Mass,
Inclusion, Equity Mindedness, Deficit Mindedness, Representational
Equity, and Excellence.

Let me point out that the definition of Excellence is circular, meaning
that the word “excellence” is used to define the word Excellence.
Representational Equity calls for “proportional participation of
historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an
institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors,
and in the distribution of grades.” As indicated by the reference to
“grades,” the focus of Inclusive Excellence is not on equality of
opportunity but rather equality of outcomes. Is this what the faculty wants?

The new diversity plan says relatively little about several key
considerations. One is how much faculty and staff time, as well as
budget resources, will be required to implement this plan; the Regent
approved plan stated boldly that no additional resources would be
required to implement Inclusive Excellence.

Another consideration is whether and how accountability will be
enforced; it is not a matter of naming who is responsible for what but
rather how to deal with individuals and groups of individuals who are
not effective in carrying out their responsibilities. Still another
consideration is how programs are to be evaluated; how can UW-Madison’s
long tradition of not rigorously evaluating minority programs be reversed?

The issues described here need to be discussed and subjected to the
“sifting and winnowing” process prior to a vote on the new diversity
plan. To approve the plan, without understanding it, would be a
dereliction of our duties of the faculty as scholars and university

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Letter to the editor: New campus Diversity Plan is deeply flawed

May 1, 2014

The Badger Herald

What is the meaning of “diversity” and “Inclusive Excellence” in the new Diversity Plan that will be voted on at next Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting?

This plan offers a radically different and much expanded definition of “diversity.” It reads:

Individual differences in personality, learning styles, and life experiences, and group or social differences that may manifest through personality, learning styles, life experiences, and group or social differences. Our definition of diversity also incorporates differences of race and ethnicity; sex; gender and gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; country of origin; language; physical and intellectual ability; emotional health; socio-economic status; and affiliations that are based on cultural, political, religious or other identities THAT CAN BE ENGAGED IN THE SERVICE OF LEARNING.

[The capitalized words come from the Board of Regents definition of diversity in its Inclusive Excellence Framework.]

This definition goes far beyond the long-standing focus on racial or ethnic groups, and it raises several critical questions:

What is the rationale for this greatly expanded definition of diversity, and what are its positive and negative implications (academic, administrative and legal) for University of Wisconsin faculty, staff and students? This new definition would seem to require that students be identified by each and every one of these differences. If so, how would this be done? Would students be willing to disclose their “identities?”

Why does the plan fail to explain how these “differences” “can be engaged in the service of learning?” The words “engaged” and “in the service” are mysterious. What do they mean? Does the plan give any suggestions about proven ways of doing this?

Understanding the meaning of the Inclusive Excellence is also difficult because relatively little attention is given to the details of this concept. It was created by the American Association of Colleges and Universities and then adopted by the Board of Regents with little or no faculty input. Is Inclusive Excellence an appropriate “framework” for a major teaching and research university such as UW?

There are additional problems. The new plan gives no hints about what has been learned from previous diversity plans – among them Plan 2008. Nor does it give any indication of how that learning is incorporated into the new Diversity Plan. This is not surprising because campus officials have been reluctant to undertake rigorous evaluations of campus diversity programs.

Another is the failure to give any significant attention to the “pipeline problem.” This refers to the small number of academically well-prepared targeted minority high school graduates from Wisconsin’s public high schools, as well as the small national pipeline of new targeted minority Ph.D.s. The importance of this long-standing problem receives, at most, passing attention.

Implementing this new and much broadened Diversity Plan is going to require additional resources. No information is provided on either the plan’s budgetary costs, or the additional time commitment of faculty and staff in trying to implement the plan’s 28 recommendations.

Even if the budgetary and human resources are available, the feasibility of successfully implementing this plan is highly uncertain. Despite the expenditure of millions of dollars for Plan 2008 and the subsequent five years of Madison’s Inclusive Excellence diversity plan, the results are widely recognized as disappointing.

When the Faculty Senate convenes next Monday, we can only hope that faculty senators ask tough questions rather than taking the easy way out by quickly voting their approval of a deeply flawed new Diversity Plan.

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W. Lee Hansen: Broader definition of diversity won’t help UW

May 1, 2014

Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison’s curious new diversity plan is finally available more than a year after its scheduled completion. Its title is a mouthful: “Forward Together: A Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence: Goals and Recommendations.”

The plan lays out seven goals, 27 recommendations for implementation and indicators of success.

The Forward Together plan is confusing because it uses two radically different definitions of diversity. One is the traditional definition that focuses on racial and ethnic diversity in students, faculty and staff.

The other is a completely new and greatly expanded definition. It defines diversity as: “Individual differences in personality, learning styles, and life experiences, and group or social differences that may manifest through personality, learning styles, life experiences, and group or social differences. Our definition of diversity also incorporates differences of race and ethnicity; sex; gender; and gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; country of origin; language; physical and intellectual ability; socio-economic status; and affiliations that are based on cultural, political, religious, or other identities” that can be engaged in the service of learning.

Why these particular “differences” are included in the definition of diversity is not clearly explained. More surprising is the failure to include important individual differences that do affect learning. I fail to understand why such factors as intelligence, aptitude, motivation, commitment, high school class rank, ACT/SAT scores, and academic preparation for college are not included.

Perhaps it is because these are perceived as “white privilege.” Yet these “differences” are associated with what most people view as indicators of “academic excellence” that are appropriate at an institution priding itself as a “world-class teaching and research university.”

The Forward Together plan also is puzzling in asserting that “multiple dimensions of diversity … can be engaged in the service of learning.” The words “engaged in the service of learning” sound elevating. But nowhere does the plan explain how these “multiple dimensions” can be “engaged in the service of learning.”

How might information on these “differences” be obtained? Applicants would probably have to make checkmarks in an array of boxes on their application forms. Identifying “differences” such as “race and ethnicity, and sex” is easy. But will applicants know their “learning styles” or how to characterize their “personalities”? Will applicants be willing to disclose personal information on their “affiliations based on their cultural, political, religious, or other identities”?

Instructors in classrooms of any size will find themselves confronted by overlapping mixtures of “individual and group/social differences.” Based on my experience, I would have no idea how to incorporate these “differences” into my economics teaching.

In the interest of transparency, the Forward Together plan should explain more clearly that its largely untested “Diversity and Inclusive Excellence” framework, endorsed earlier by UW System, is the brainchild of a Washington-based educational “think tank” rather than something developed out of the experience of college and university faculty and staff working to promote greater diversity.

UW-Madison has consistently failed to achieve the goals of its earlier diversity plans. What should lead faculty, students and administrators to believe any substantial progress can be made in promoting the much broader concept of diversity and inclusion that is the centerpiece of Forward Together?

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Concerns about Forward Together diversity plan: Memo to University Committee

Members of the University Committee: With time growing short before the next Faculty Senate meeting when, as I understand it, the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee will be submitting its new diversity plan and seeking Senate approve of it, I am forwarding to you the questions that need to be raised about the plan and its implications. The first page lists my five major concerns about the plan, and these are amplified on the second page. These concerns are based on my careful study of the March 14, 2014 draft as well as my long term interest in the efficacy of our minority programs.

April 23, 2014
To: University Committee
Subj: Concerns about Forward Together diversity plan, March 14, 2014 Draft
From: W. Lee Hansen, Prof Emeritus, Economics,

After careful study of the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee’s March 16, Draft, I want to voice my major concerns about the new diversity plan. These concerns are listed below and elaborated on the next page. I hope to be able to meet briefly with the University Committee prior to the next Faculty Senate meeting, preferably next Monday, April 28.

Concern #1: What is the rationale for the greatly expanded definition of diversity and its positive and negative implications (academic, administrative, and legal) for UW-Madison faculty, staff, students, and the general public?

Concern #2: What useful knowledge about diversity gained from evaluations of prior diversity plans helped shape this new diversity plan?

Concern #3: Do we have the budgetary resources, human resource capabilities, and will to implement this new diversity plan?

Concern #4: Why is so little attention given to the “pipeline problem”—the continued small number of academically well-prepared targeted minority graduates from Wisconsin public high schools as well as the small pipeline of new targeted minority PhDs?

Concern #5: What does the new plan have to say about how to increase transparency and enforce personal accountability for the operation, monitoring, and rigorous evaluation of the numerous programs and initiatives already in place as well as those proposed?

My recommendation: In light of these concerns, this new diversity plan should not be approved by the Faculty Senate.

Concern #1: What is the rationale for the greatly expanded definition of diversity?

(1) Exactly how will enumerating and recognizing the “MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF DIVERSITY” help UW-Madison attain the “educational, business, and social justice” outcomes of concern?
(2) Exactly how can the additional dimensions of diversity “be engaged in the service of learning”?
(3) What are the educational, curricular, and legal implications for faculty, academic staff, and students of incorporating into diversity these additional differences,” in particular “affiliations based on cultural, political, religious, or other identities”?
(4) What new groups identified by their individual differences and group/social differences can be described accurately as “historically underrepresented”?

Concern #2: What useful knowledge about diversity gained from evaluating prior diversity plans has helped shape the new diversity plan?

(1) Why isn’t the new plan’s account of the history and success of prior diversity plans more accurate and forthcoming?
(2) What are the results of the evaluation studies promised in UW-Madison’s Final Report on Plan 2008?
(3) What documented knowledge gained from the experience with Plan 2008 and the subsequent five years of Inclusive Excellence has helped shaped the new diversity plan?

Concern #3: Do we have the resources, capacity, and will to implement this new diversity plan?

(1) What additional resources, e.g., expenditures, FTE personnel, and faculty/staff time, that will be required to implement the new plan?
(2) Is there any assurance we have the knowledge and skill to successfully implement the seven goals?
(3) What evidence is available to demonstrate widespread campus support for the seven goals and the ability and willingness to implement the plan’s 27 recommendations?
(4) Are the Short-Term and Long-Term Indicators of Success stated precisely enough to permit informed assessments of whether they have been achieved?

Concern #4: Why is so little attention given the “pipeline problem”?

(1) Why does the report give so little attention to the small pipeline of academically qualified targeted minority high school graduates in Wisconsin and to the even smaller pipeline of highly talented and accomplished new targeted minority PhDs in accounting for the still small numbers of minorities?
(3) What can or should UW-Madison do to increase the size of these two pipelines and thereby augment its targeted minority undergraduate student body and its targeted minority faculty?

Concern #5: What does the new plan have so little to say about how to increase transparency and enforce personal accountability in the operation, monitoring, and rigorous evaluation to the numerous minority programs already in place as well as those newly proposed?

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Letter to the Editor: Is labeling “targeted” minority students discriminatory?

April 08, 2014

The Daily Cardinal

The recently approved Regent Policy Document 14-6, “Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation,” raises troubling questions as UW-Madison formulates its new minority plan, “Forward Together: UW Madison’s Framework for Diversity and Exclusive Excellence.”

The focus of 14-6 on individual discriminatory behavior ignores institutional discriminatory behavior, what is often called “institutional racism.” Here are some examples;

Shouldn’t continued use of the label “targeted” minority students be viewed in the language of this new policy as a form of either “Discrimination” or “Discriminatory Harassment,” or perhaps both?

Does labeling minority students as “targeted” interfere with their “academic environment” and “create . . . a learning . . . environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating”?

Is the labeling of “targeted” minority students consistent with the UW System goal of “fostering an environment of respect for the dignity and worth of all members of the university”?

This widely used “targeted” label highlights the fact that some fraction—as many as a quarter—of “targeted” minority students—African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and Southeast Asian—are regularly admitted under UW-Madison’s “selective” or “holistic” rather than the “competitive” admission standard applied to most applicants.

The “targeted” label applied to minority students, both as individuals and members of their respective racial, ethnic, and national origin groups, indicates they are viewed by the campus administration as somehow “different” from the rest of the student body rather than as the individual students they are.

The numerous Minority and Disadvantaged Student programs— approximately 60 of them here at UW-Madison—designed primarily to accommodate the “selectively” admitted “targeted” minority students send a signal to the entire student body, that these students require special academic and other help not available to non-targeted students.

Finally, the “targeted” label carries unfortunate connotations that have no justification in the lexicon of campus mission statements, strategic plans, diversity “frameworks,” and the like.

What can be done to reshape our collective thinking on diversity? Unfortunately, diversity is an article of faith among top System officials and UW-Madison campus leaders. As a condition of their appointment, they are required to demonstrate a “personal commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion” Is such a test appropriate to the central mission of the university?

The obvious solution for the University of Wisconsin is to reaffirm the traditional concept of academic excellence in all aspects of campus life. This can be accomplished by treating all applicants in the same way, admitting them on the basis of an admission standard in which race, ethnicity, and national origin play no role.

It also means eliminating the double standard. Discrimination and harassment by students and staff is prohibited. Yet institutional racism continues. It does so because the UW System ignores its own prohibition against discrimination. This is exemplified by the way it labels “targeted” minority students, the very students it seeks to help.

Simply acknowledging that the University of Wisconsin practices the very discriminatory behavior it prohibits students and staff from engaging in will be a real test of character for the Regents, UW System officials, and UW-Madison campus leaders.

Even more difficult will be eliminating its racist behavior. Doing so will require the kind of courage few university leaders possess, here or elsewhere across the nation.

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Letter to the editor: Madison’s Diversity Plan since Plan 2008 ended

February 26, 2014

The Daily Cardinal

Your news report (Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee releases UW-Madison Diversity Draft plan, Feb. 20, 2014) is wrong in repeating the assertion that UW-Madison has gone without a diversity plan since Plan 2008 ended more than five years ago. That incorrect assertion was first made by the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee during their Diversity Forum presentations last fall.

Most people fail to realize that former Vice-Provost for Diversity and Climate, and Chief Diversity Office, Damon Williams, spent his years here advancing the Inclusive Excellence framework. This was the newly-named diversity plan adopted by the Board of Regents in March 2009. Williams began implementing this plan in 2009-10, with active support and financing from both the Provost and Chancellor.

It is not surprising why so few people knew what was happening. Williams was quietly at work behind the scenes implementing an approach he helped design before coming to UW-Madison. His work here was never publicized by the Provost or the Chancellor. Implementation of Inclusive Excellence never came to the Faculty Senate for its consideration or endorsement. Nor did it go to other campus governance units. Why there was not greater campus involvement has never been explained.

Nor was attention drawn to the radical redefinition of the term “diversity” embedded in the Inclusive Excellence framework. More information on this new definition will emerge, and probably be contested, when the Ad Hoc Committee finally releases the draft of its new diversity plan.

The accomplishments achieved over the past five years under Inclusive Excellence are documented in a 198-page report compiled by Williams and his staff. The report is called the “UW-Madison Strategic Diversity Update.” Williams released this report on August 2, 2014 just as he departed from Madison to take another job.

This long and dense report includes 41 exhibits. It describes countless diversity programs grouped by the offices under which they operate. It contains a list of 181 UW-Madison diversity initiatives and the acronym for each of these many initiatives.

That report offers three major recommendations. All three are designed to embed diversity programs more deeply within the campus administrative structure.

Lest people still believe diversity efforts ceased in the absence of a new Plan 2008, a look at campus expenditure data dispels that notion. In the past five years, expenditures on Madison’s many Minority and Disadvantaged student programs averaged more than $25 million annually. Adding the additional M/D expenditures that for some unexplained reason are excluded from the official data pushes this annual average expenditure total to approximately $40 million.

To say that UW-Madison had no diversity plan over the past five years suggests that it spent for no apparent purpose almost a quarter billion dollars on M/D programs. With this level of spending, what has the Inclusive Excellence plan accomplished? Has it been evaluated for its effectiveness in increasing minority student enrollment and improving the campus climate? If it has not been evaluated, shouldn’t that be done before UW-Madison launches yet another diversity plan?

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Estimating the Resource Costs of Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs

W. Lee Hansen*
Professor Emeritus Economics
wlhansen@wisc.eduFor presentation at WISCAPE Brown Bag
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building
May 1, 2013: 12-1 pm

Executive Summary

            This paper presents estimates of the full resource costs of Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs for UW-Madison and the UW System. It shows that for 2008-09 the total resource costs of M/D programs are almost 60 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for UW-Madison and more than 75 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for the UW System. It provides several alternative estimates of the per student resource costs of these programs. Finally, it cumulates the value of the resources committed to M/D programs during Plan 2008 and in the years subsequent to 2008. These differences occur because the UW System’s Minority and Disadvantaged Student Annual Report (M/D Report) fails, without explanation, to include the full array of M/D program costs even though it openly acknowledges these omissions. Continue reading

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CommA asymmetries raise questions [original title, “How enrolling in Comm A can boost your GPA”]

April 22, 2013
The Badger Herald

Entering freshmen students are likely to appreciate any advice they can get about how to raise their first-year GPA. The key is knowing whether, where and when they should enroll in their required general education composition course, Comm A.

The tips offered here are based on course grade distribution data available on the Registrar’s website. Attention is focused on the two largest Comm A courses, English 100 and Communication Arts 100. Continue reading

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