First university in Utah renames DEI office after lawmakers ban words


Under HB261, Utah colleges, universities and K-12 schools are prohibited from having an office that uses the terms “diversity, equity and inclusion” in the name.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Students at Utah Valley University on Aug. 25, 2022. The Orem school is the first in the state to rename is campus diversity center in line with HB261 that passed during the 2024 legislative session.

Following the directive from state lawmakers, Utah Valley University has stripped the words “inclusion” and “diversity” from its campus office for underrepresented students — giving it the distinction as the first school in the state to eliminate those now banned words.

The Orem university pulled down the lettering at its central diversity office earlier this month. The other seven public colleges and universities across Utah will be required to do the same by July 1 under the controversial anti-DEI bill — HB261passed by the state’s Republican-majority Legislature this session.

Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez released a statement on Instagram about the name change for the school’s previously titled Office of Inclusion and Diversity, saying it would not alter the school’s ultimate mission of equity.

“UVU succeeds when all members of our community are seen, valued, welcomed, respected, included, represented and heard,” Tuminez said.

The campus center will now be called the Office of Institutional Engagement and Effectiveness; some changes have been made to update its website to strike the prohibited words.

HB261 mandated that the state’s public institutions of higher education eliminate the terms “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or DEI, from the names of centers on campus. The measure, signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, also applies to K-12 schools and government offices.

Those institutions are now required to cater any diversity efforts to all students or patrons. For instance, a Black cultural center must also assist white individuals. A women’s resource center must also support men.

And as employers, those institutions will also be forbidden from asking their staff to sign onto any kind of statement about diversity as a condition of hire. Cox previously called that practice — which universities in the state have said they don’t have in the way Cox described“bordering on evil.”

The push in Utah has mirrored nationwide conservative efforts to peel back DEI efforts that seek to support minorities who may have a disadvantage in attaining education.

Most universities and colleges in the state have said that they are currently studying what they will need to change to be in adherence with the new law here, mainly restructuring their diversity efforts and changing names. Faculty, staff and students have been vocal in speaking out against the measure.

UVU said in its statement that its newly framed office will focus broadly on student success. And it will be charged with tracking data on that, such as graduation rates.

“The new IEE Office,” Tuminez said, “will work to strengthen UVU’s culture of exceptional care, exceptional accountability and exceptional results.”



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