The University of North Carolina (UNC) system spent roughly $70 million paying employees working on its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, according to a report produced by Open The Books.

Across the 16 colleges and universities in the UNC system, Open The Books identified 686 staffers working to some degree on the university system’s DEI initiatives. UNC employed 288 people for explicitly DEI-related roles while 398 of its employees were members of DEI committees, DEI councils or other similar bodies.

An additional 80 students worked for the university in primarily volunteer DEI roles, according to Open The Books.

Some of UNC’s DEI employees take home especially large compensation packages. UNC-Chapel Hill chief diversity officer Leah Cox, for instance, is paid $317,538 per year, according to Open The Books. Sheri Schwab, the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity at North Carolina State University, on the other hand, has a salary of $232,964.

UNC-Chapel Hill alone pays almost $30 million in salaries to DEI employees, with North Carolina State spending $16.4 million, according to Open The Books. The total estimated cost per year for in-state students at UNC-Chapel Hill is $27,036, meaning that the DEI employment budget alone could cover scholarships for roughly 1,000 students.

Open The Books’ found numerous other DEI employees taking home six-figure salaries, according to its report.

UNC did not respond to Open The Books’ record request to include information about the benefits received by its DEI employees. The organization estimates that the total cost to taxpayers rises to over $90 million when benefits are included in the compensation figures for DEI employees.

The University of Virginia, another public institution, also shelled out large sums of public funds on DEI employment, spending an estimated $20 million per year on such expenses, according to the Washington Examiner.

North Carolinian taxpayers fund the UNC system to the tune of over $1 billion per year, with $3.7 billion in state funds being allocated to the universities in 2023 as part of a two-year funding plan, North Carolina Public Radio reported.

DEI, however, could be on the way out at UNC. The UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees on May 13 voted unanimously to cut funding to DEI programs and redirect it to campus police. Marty Kotis, who serves as vice chair of the board’s budget and finance committee, called the university’s DEI programs “discriminatory and divisive.”

“I think that DEI in a lot of people’s minds is divisions, exclusion and indoctrination,” he said. “We need more unity and togetherness, more dialogue, more diversity of thought.”

The broader UNC System Board of Governors is expected to vote Thursday on a similar measure that would eliminate DEI requirements at the 16 universities under its jurisdiction, including mandates regarding DEI staffing, The News & Observer reported.

The broader UNC System Board of Governors will vote Thursday on a similar measure that would eliminate DEI requirements at the 16 universities under its jurisdiction, including mandates regarding DEI staffing, a UNC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Republican-led states like TexasFlorida and Oklahoma, among others, have limited the role of DEI at their public universities.

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