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UM Chancellor Responds to MS State Auditor’s ‘Concerns’ About DEI Programs

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


Chancellor Glenn Boyce issued a statement in response to comments made Thursday morning by Mississippi State Auditor Shad White in regard to how much universities spend on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

In a press release sent to media at about 11 a.m., White released a report his office conducted on how much each state university is spending on DEI programs and added the following comments:

“I have real concerns about what DEI staff may be teaching or doing at our taxpayer-funded universities,” said White. “For example, during the Trump Administration, President Trump shut down federal government DEI programs because some taught that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism.’ This kind of language tears us apart, not brings us together.”

Later in the afternoon, Boyce said the vast majority of UM’s underrepresented students are Mississippians and that the DEI programs help the school recruit, retain and graduate those students.

“We are proud of the many ways in which those efforts help all of our underrepresented students succeed academically and feel a sense of belonging,” Boyce said. “As a result, our university has the highest retention and graduation rates in the state. This work enables all of our students to lead and make a difference in the diverse environments that they will encounter in their careers and communities.”

 Boyce said that the university uses mostly federal and private funding for the programs.

“Which enables us to limit our use of state appropriations to less than 1% of the university’s total state appropriations annually,” he said. “All of this represents a fiscally responsible approach to generating a significant return on investment for our students and the state we serve.”

While White’s comments focused on racial issues, Boyce said the DEI programs at Ole Miss are aimed to create a welcoming environment for all students and promote an essential sense of belonging across a wide spectrum of underrepresented groups, Boyce said.

“Including racial minorities, adult learners, veterans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, international students, religious groups and disadvantaged economic backgrounds,” he said.

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