ON-Lion Letter

"Many American colleges and universities are in the thrall of 'diversity,' but none more so than my institution, the University of Wisconsin," begins a July article published by The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, N.C., which is supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  "This spring, the university adopted a new plan that, according to Board of Regents policy, '[p]laces the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle.'

"That is, promoting diversity appears to be more important than teaching students," continues the article, by UW professor emeritus of economics W. Lee Hansen.

"This Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence sailed through our Faculty Senate without the least bit of attention, much less the 'sifting and winnowing' on which it prides itself," he writes.

"Although much of the language is a thicket of clichés, no one dared challenge it," according to Hansen.  "Moreover, there was no probing of the ramifications of the plan.  Apparently, 'diversity' has become such a sacred cow that even tenured professors are afraid to question it in any way.

"The University of Wisconsin adopted its first diversity plan back in 1966 and every few years it launches a much-touted new one," he notes.  "During my 30-year teaching career at Madison, followed by more than a decade of retirement, I have seen not the slightest bit of evidence that the fixation on 'diversity' has made the campus better in any respect.

"I predict this new Inclusive Excellence plan will fail to produce its hoped-for utopian outcomes," he concludes.  "In a few years, the university will hear demands for yet another diversity plan. 

"Achieving 'diversity' is like sailing toward the horizon.

"You never get there."

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