Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named “banning discriminatory ‘DEI’ policies in higher education” a top priority
In a series of memos sent by Chief of Staff Gardner Pate in February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s administration announced its intention to ban “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives in state agencies and public universities. In response, the University of Houston (UH) announced that it would not use DEI statements or factors in its hiring or promotion practices in order to comply with state and federal laws.
UH Chancellor Renu Khator stated in a March 3 email to HR Dive: “We have no offices, departments or programs promoting discrimination in the guise of diversity, equity and inclusion.” Shawn Lindsey, Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate VP of Media Relations, emphasized that the memo was a reminder of UH policy and that using DEI statements has become a disfavored practice.
Similarly, Texas A&M University (TAMU) announced that it would revoke its diverse hiring practices.
Chancellor John Sharp issued a statement on March 2, saying: “No university or agency in the A&M System will admit any student, nor hire any employee based on any factor other than merit.” Sharp then ordered all A&M System institutions to review their employment and admission practices to ensure compliance with Abbott’s Feb. 6 memo.
University of Texas System Board of Regents Chair Kevin Eltife confirmed at a Feb. 22 board meeting that the system would also be recanting its DEI commitments in compliance with the state. “Certain DEI efforts have strayed from the original intent to now imposing requirements and actions that, rightfully so, raised the concerns of our policymakers,” Eltife said.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named “banning discriminatory ‘DEI’ policies in higher education” one of his top 30 priorities for 2023. This comes alongside his priorities of banning children’s exposure to drag shows and critical race theory in higher education.
The double layer of compliance regarding DEI bans is worth noting. Patrick’s other priority is removing judges and district attorneys who refuse to follow Texas law.
It is clear that Texas public institutions are coming down hard on DEI initiatives, in compliance with state and federal laws. Employers in Texas should take note of these changes and ensure compliance with these new mandates.