Ohio State Reports: DEI Litmus Tests

John D. Sailer

For the past three years, the Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences required every search committee to complete a “Faculty Diversity Recruitment Report,” detailing their extensive DEI efforts. In February, I filed a public records request asking for every report produced over the last three years. After months of delays, the university finally handed over the documents.

Today in the Wall Street Journal, I give an exhaustive account of the diversity recruitment reports: “Inside Ohio State’s DEI Factory.” Ohio State currently employs 141 diversity officers. These documents show the result.

In the spirit of openness, it’s only fair to let everyone see exactly how Ohio State’s policies played out in practice. Over the next week, I will be releasing copies of the reports, highlighting aspects that raise serious questions about academic freedom and, well, academic seriousness.

We can call them “The Ohio State Reports.” And this first edition underscores a simple fact: for prospective faculty—both the sciences and the humanities—contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion can make or break a job candidate. Here are a few noteworthy examples. Click on the hyperlinks to read each full (redacted) report.

  • In a search for a professor of Synoptic Meteorology, “Diversity statements were requested of all applicants, and were considered a crucial part of the evaluation process.”
  • In a search for a professor of Music Theory, the report lists the reasons for not choosing candidates. A total of four were eliminated solely because of their “Insufficient diversity statement.”
  • The report for a professor of History of Architecture and the Built Environment, “Very strong research profile in a desirable area for the department (colonial southeast Asia). Fantastic writing sample. He blew the interview with his DEI answer, however, which was disqualifying (all on the committee agreed on this).”
  • Finally, for a search for a professor in Military History, the report notes “During the screening process, the search committee not only paid attention to the diverse backgrounds of the applicants but also screened the applicants' diversity statements as well as diversity-related topics in their research and teaching profile.” It adds: “One applicant on the long list was excluded from the short list consideration precisely because his diversity statement demonstrated poor understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.”

When turning over the records, an Ohio State spokesman told me that in April—two months after I filed my public records request—the university updated its hiring practices to exclude required diversity statements, except in a few narrow instances. Thus after heavily employing them to assess thousands of job applicants, the university now implicitly acknowledges that diversity statements are a bad idea.

But how exactly are “diversity statements” evaluated at Ohio State? That’s the topic for tomorrow's post. Until then, be sure to read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.


Photo by Dana Lewin on Unsplash

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