Activists and politicians have moved in recent weeks to defund diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and limit funding and hiring at institutions in states including Texas and Florida.
NADOHE President Paulette Granberry Russell has talked with various media outlets in response to these moves. Below are excerpts from articles in which Granberry Russell has shared her perspective.
Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 9: Texas Governor Warns Against DEI in Hiring Practices
"Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, told Inside Higher Ed in a statement that Abbott’s administration is 'grossly misconstruing federal anti-discrimination law, twisting it to fit their own political agenda and silence any effort to advance equity in a country that has long struggled with its founding promise of justice and liberty for all.'
She emphasized that 'inclusive and equitable institutions' benefit everyone.
'The memo and its claims are ridiculous and beyond an attempt for state government overreach,' she wrote. 'They are just one more step in a broader assault on the basic underpinnings of diversity, equity and inclusion, terms that some have sought to turn into dog whistles because they have not bothered to understand the basic history of America and the principles that can set it on a brighter path forward.'"
Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 7: The New Conservative Playbook on DEI
“Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, said the rhetoric around DEI programs is purposefully divisive. She believes the efforts in Florida are meant to send a signal to colleges and universities to cease and desist on DEI work.
‘I think it is intended to have a chilling effect on the efforts of institutions,’ Granberry Russell said.
She disagreed sharply with detractors’ claims that DEI initiatives are intended to impose a liberal orthodoxy on colleges, pointing to broader efforts to promote ‘structural change within institutions so that they have the ability to recruit, retain a more diverse student body, faculty and staff,’ and to create an inclusive, welcoming campus culture.”
Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 3: Shouting Down an Empty Hallway
"Despite the increase in political hostility, the number of senior DEI roles is steadily multiplying. Between 2020 and 2022, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, membership in the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education increased by 60 percent, according to Paulette Granberry Russell, the association’s president. At the same time, she added, senior diversity officers increasingly come from diverse backgrounds and are thus likely to experience the difficulties of being a rare leader of color in the predominantly white world of higher ed administration.
'The vast majority of our members come out of communities that have been historically underrepresented or marginalized in higher ed,' Granberry Russell said. 'There’s an emotional toll, and that’s exacerbated when you have inadequate resources and support or when the job is tokenizing.'
Discouragement and frustration can result in DEI staffers hopping from job to job, hoping to find a good fit.
'I think that’s often a result of institutions that have not clearly defined the expectations of the position, what they regard as priorities,' said Granberry Russell. 'The important thing is making sure that people come into the roles adequately prepared and that those who are developing those roles understand what it takes to not only realistically set goals, but also support that individual in pursuing them.'"
The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Jan. 20: The Plan to Dismantle DEI
"Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, said campus officials should fear the proposed bill because it would silence essential conversations on the continued impacts of racism.
'Everyone in higher education needs to be alert and aware of what’s going on.'"
The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Jan. 31: Race on Campus Newsletter
"Advocates of diversity efforts say they are girding for a long-term battle. If higher education is going to fulfill its mission to serve all students, said Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, DEI offices 'are essential.'"