Lawmaker questions UT salaries in diversity programs
A Knoxville legislator is questioning the University of Tennessee’s annual spending of more than $4.7 million on salary and benefits for employees involved in diversity programs, contending both the total and some individual salaries are excessive and should be reviewed with an eye toward cuts.
“If we could cut that $4.7 million by $1.5 million a year, that would be $15 million over 10 years,” said Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville. “That would be saving a lot of tuition dollars and a lot of taxpayer dollars” for other university needs.
Margie Nichols, UT vice chancellor for communications, said the diversity efforts are largely mandated by federal law and cover a wide array of programs benefiting women and minorities. UT officials believe the expenditures are warranted and are open to a review, she said.
The $4.7 million total may overstate expenditures because it includes gross salaries of staff who have duties other than diversity matters. Only about $2.55 million in salary and benefits is directly attributed to diversity activities, though Daniel says all figures may understate actual spending because it does not include related employee travel and other expenses.