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Critics warn schools are skirting Texas DEI ban after university shuffles DEI officials to other departments

Conservatives in Texas are warning universities may be trying to skirt a new law banning DEI at public universities by reshuffling DEI officials to other departments.

Texas A&M University responded to a state law banning diversity, equity and inclusion on college campuses by giving the department head a raise before reassigning her and other employees to other departments. It sparked concerns schools are attempting to further “embed” the controversial practice at Texas universities despite the law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law banning DEI on college campuses in June 2023. In the months that followed, documents obtained by Fox News Digital show Texas A&M reassigned several DEI employees to other departments, including the vice president of the program, who received a 10% raise, a new position and a nine-month paid leave.

A document obtained through a FOIA request showed that, in August 2023, Annie McGowan, vice president for diversity, was given “a 5% salary increase in recognition of your performance” and “to address equity issues you will receive an additional 5%.”


The post-DEI bill moves have raised concerns that universities in Texas are reshuffling DEI officials while still encouraging them to continue their efforts through other positions.

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“The leadership at Texas A&M are doubling down on their fealty to DEI ideology instead of directing resources to programs that promote academic excellence,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of Do No Harm, told Fox News Digital.

“Giving the former DEI head a raise explicitly on the basis of so-called equity and redistributing staff in the disbanded DEI department to other administrative jobs is an attempt to embed DEI into every department, blatantly ignoring the Texas law passed to ban such practices. This ideology is corrosive to the mission of and trust in our institutions of higher education. It must end.” 

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Texas A&M has suggested since the passage of the bill it is still focused on incorporating DEI principles through its faculty.

“Just to be clear, at Texas A&M, we will continue to maintain a welcoming environment for all, and we will continue to appreciate, respect and harness the unique perspectives each of you bring to this institution,” Texas A&M President Mark A. Welsh wrote in September 2023.

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“Diversity of thought is a cornerstone of great universities, and, quite frankly, it’s a key ingredient to our continued success. Implementation of S.B. 17 will not change that.”

Several other universities have indicated they continue promoting DEI principles despite the law, The Federalist reported earlier this year.

Texas universities began laying off employees from DEI departments in response to the bill, and Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton, who wrote the bill, recently warned state colleges should take the legislation “very seriously” and not try to skirt it with sneaky workarounds or they will face financial penalties. 

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I have extraordinary concerns that universities in Texas are doing everything they can to skirt our new law and continue promoting leftist divisive DEI at the taxpayers’ expense but just under a new name,” Republican Texas State Rep. Brian Harrison told Fox News Digital. 

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A Texas A&M University spokesperson told Fox News Digital 5% of the raise for McGowan was a “standard merit increase for her work over the previous year” and the other 5% was “a salary adjustment granted by the former president to ensure fairness and parity relative to her peers within the school where she teaches.” The spokesperson said the pay bumps were not related to DEI practices.

The spokesperson added the university is “dedicated to upholding the law. Last year, we implemented a comprehensive framework of measures and protocols to ensure we meet those legal obligations effectively and responsibility.

“We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this misconception because it is not accurate whatsoever,” the spokesperson said. “Texas A&M is following the new laws. DEI-related job duties have been eliminated across the university. As we continue to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of our student body, our commitment to academic excellence at Texas A&M will remain at the forefront of everything we do.

“Texas A&M’s Office for Diversity had eight positions, all of which were eliminated, along with programs and initiatives prior to Jan. 1, 2024, which is when S.B. 17 went into effect,” the spokesperson continued. “The university was able to identify open positions that aligned with each person’s skill set. Six of the eight took A&M up on the offer to move into a new job on campus, while the other two decided to leave.

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“A couple dozen positions university-wide carried varying DEI-related responsibilities, with none exceeding 25% of their overall duties. The Human Resources & Organizational Effectiveness group collaborated with supervisors to remove all DEI-related duties and create new responsibilities for those employees.”

Harrison told Fox News Digital Republican lawmakers in Texas are working to make sure universities are not able to skirt the anti-DEI law.

“We have all these leftist Marxist professors, and I want to get rid of them,” Harrison told Fox News Digital. “Because I don’t want my constituents being forced to pay for that. If anyone wants to go study this leftist garbage, they can do that. But my constituents are not going to pay for that, over my dead body.”

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