University of Arkansas Dissolves DEI Department

The university will reallocate the former DEI office's employees and resources to other campus departments.
portrait of Jessica Bryant
Jessica Bryant
Read Full Bio


Jessica Bryant is a higher education analyst and senior data reporter for BestColleges. She covers higher education trends and data, focusing on issues impacting underserved students. She has a BA in journalism and previously worked with the South Fl...
Published on June 22, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Cameren Boatner
Cameren Boatner
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Cameren Boatner is a diversity, equity, and inclusion editor at BestColleges. She's a Society of Professional Journalists award winner for her coverage of race, minorities, and Title IX. You can find her work in South Florida Gay News, MSN Money, Deb...
Learn more about our editorial process
Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr / iStock Unreleased / Getty Images
  • The institution's diversity, equity, and inclusion office will officially close Aug. 1.
  • All current employees of the DEI division will have the opportunity to work for another department on campus focusing on student recruitment and success.
  • The university is the latest institution in the U.S. to pause or end DEI initiatives amid legislation seeking to prohibit DEI efforts at public schools.

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will shutter its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) department Aug. 1, Chancellor Charles Robinson announced in an email this month.

While an increasing number of states have introduced legislation that will ban or restrict diversity initiatives at public institutions, the move by the University of Arkansas's flagship institution was not forced by politicians.

Arkansas previously had a bill moving through the state Legislature this year that would have targeted DEI hiring practices and state-sponsored affirmative action programs at public colleges. However, on May 1, after a series of readings and amendments to the bill, it failed to pass before the end of the legislative session.

Though there are currently no other bills in Arkansas targeting DEI initiatives or offices at public institutions, university spokesperson John Thomas told BestColleges in an email that school officials are always "respectful of the laws, regulations, and various viewpoints on how [they] carry out their mission."

In March, Iowa's Board of Regents instructed three public institutions to pause any new DEI initiatives while it reviewed the existing ones. This move occurred around the same time as the introduction of a House bill that seeks to end the spending of state funds on DEI offices and staff.

Meanwhile, at least six other states, including Florida and most recently Texas, have signed bills into law that prohibit DEI offices, training, programs, and funding for anything related to DEI.

The University of Arkansas is currently waorking to send its DEI division's resources to other departments and give employees the opportunity to work in the offices of student success, student affairs, human resources, the office of equal opportunity, and compliance and university advancement.

Robinson wants to "expand programs around access, opportunity and developing a culture of belonging for all students and employees."

For a comprehensive list of the states that have introduced or enacted legislation targeting DEI initiatives at public colleges and universities, visit our anti-DEI legislation tracker.