A Humble Proposal

by James A. Bacon

Like employers around the country, the University of Virginia is experiencing major staff shortages. The problem is serious enough that it warranted a discussion during last week’s Board of Visitors meeting.

President Jim Ryan attributed the workforce challenges mainly to “the Great Resignation,” or the increasing willingness of employees during the wind-down of the COVID-19 epidemic to quit their jobs in search of better prospects elsewhere.

Looking ahead, UVa will pay greater attention to hiring, recruitment and retention, Ryan told the Board. He also made some useful suggestions. The university will review open positions to see if the listed educational credentials are truly necessary to perform the job. The university will increase its commitment to training so employees can rise within the organization — better to encourage people to move from one part of UVa to another than lose them altogether. An even more promising idea came from a Board member that if a position remains open for months and the place doesn’t fall apart, maybe it’s not really needed.

There’s one more thing, I humbly suggest, that UVa can do to expand the pool of potential applicants — eliminate mandatory diversity statements in job applications and employee reviews.

UVa routinely requires job applicants to submit statements describing their commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. What has the applicant done, and what could he or she do, to advance the goals of DEI? This requirement stacks the deck against the half or more of the population for whom DEI is not a burning personal priority. If these individuals exclude themselves from consideration — or are weeded from the prospect list by those doing the hiring — the list of candidates shrinks.

DEI might be a good way to ensure ideological conformity in the faculty and staff, but it’s a counter-productive strategy for filling unfilled positions.

— JAB  

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Wahoo76
Wahoo76
13 days ago

Jim–there’s just too much common sense in your suggestion so it will never be implemented! But I like it!

Gene Bogen
13 days ago

My suggestion is to eliminate DEI statements from job applications and employee reviews period.

KAC
KAC
13 days ago

If the university were to poll employees/faculty, they may find that DEI is actually contributing to attrition. People who work hard and have earned their position favor a merit-based system. Are grades still merit-based?
They may also find that mandatory masking and jabs contributed. The US like many countries is experiencing excess non-covid deaths and injuries.

Charles James Frankel III
Charles James Frankel III
13 days ago

Wholeheartedly agree.

J B MCCOY III
J B MCCOY III
13 days ago

Groupthink, DEI or otherwise should not be part of the hiring process. It’s simple, can the job applicant do the job for the compensation offered?

Jen Hans
Jen Hans
12 days ago

Well let me see maybe stop mandating medical treatments that people don’t want and more people would be interested. And how about not discriminating against white men. But that would create a real culture of inclusion. And drop the culture of exclusion. Jim could never do that – not part of his radical woke agenda

Kerry D Moynihan
Kerry D Moynihan
12 days ago

Please don’t forget that the most important thing is conformity to Left Wing Orthodoxy and GroupThink, not actually filling jobs with people who can do the work.

All Hail Big Brother!

On second thought, I will echo Martin Luther King:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” [or their sexual orientation, etc, etc.] Regardless of skin color or preferred pronoun, who is the best person for the job at hand? Equity of opportunity, not of outcomes, is the key.

A Schneider
A Schneider
12 days ago

What a lack of diverse thought to require rigid adherence to the group think

James B Atkin
James B Atkin
12 days ago

Good idea But, as such, will not be adopted

Jordan Ball
Jordan Ball
12 days ago

Get rid of DEI statements, all they do is ensure ideological conformity and that is not a good thing. We need ideological diversity.

Patrick Alther
Patrick Alther
12 days ago

DEI Statements are overkill, applications are not the place to inquire about prospective employees political views or activities.
An official statement on the University’s commitment to non- discrimination,yes.
Clearly stated policies of what is expected of how people treat their fellow employees or the public. Clearly stated po!icies on what is not acceptable behavior and how it will be handled,yes
But this nebulous DEI po!icy sounds like it is assumed everyone is an unlighfened bigot!
Having experienced a session of mandatory so-called “sensitivity training” a workplace once I think I know of what I speak. Shall we saying it involved sitting through condescending puffery from a self- important “facilitator”.

Practicing Lawyer
Practicing Lawyer
12 days ago

Thank you for the article, Jim. Agree fully. What authority does the BOV have here? Can the Board not vote to preclude use of mandatory loyalty oaths in hiring and review? If so, this should be easily accomplished once Governor Youngkin has another round of appointees. Am I analyzing that incorrectly?

Walter Smith
Walter Smith
12 days ago

The BOV has full authority. It is supposed to set policy, and Pres Ryan is supposed to implement. Totally inverted now, and I can only presume they are Democratic hacks first, UVA lovers second…or later!
Currently, they are permitting (gladly embracing?) racial discrimination and discriminating on the basis of political affiliation, both prohibited under UVA’s non-discrimination statement. The DEI statements only serve to make sure UVA will eventually get rid of the 5% of faculty who are not Democratic loyalists (per FEC records, 95% of federal political contributions from UVA employees goes to Democrats)

Walter Smith
Walter Smith
12 days ago

Besides the mandatory DEI compelled speech, UVA might consider returning to the pre-Covid standards for medical and religious exemptions, which were routinely granted, AND NO ONE CARED, OR DIED!
This was another area of failure by the BOV during Covid. One of their duties is preservation of Jeffersonian ideals. I believe that would include religious liberty and Jefferson’s stance is essentially in the Va Constitution. UVA applied federal law, and likely violated that in denying many religious exemptions. But they certainly violated Virginia law and Jeffersonian religious freedom. The Covid exemption forms were vastly different from historical vaccine exemptions and were essentially contracts of adhesion – BOV was supposed to look out for students. It looked out for covering UVA’s very rich a$$…

Jack Kennard
Jack Kennard
12 days ago

Apart from the DEI discussion related to job vacancies, let’s remember to “follow the money”. Many relatively low wage earners are still getting pandemic relief checks, food stamps, student loan payment deferrals, and other subsidies. Bureaucratic incompetence has allowed some to continue receiving payments for which they are not or no longer entitled.
Why return to the cafeteria or motel job?