UT-Austin lays off employees to comply with Texas’ DEI ban

The University of Texas at Austin has reportedly laid off dozens of employees to comply with Texas’s DEI ban that went into effect earlier this year.

The school laid off 60 employees who worked in the diversity, equity and inclusion programs, including 40 who were in the Division of Campus and Community Engagement, according to the Austin American-Statesman, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

The shake-up in the university comes as the institution looks to better comply with Senate Bill 17, a law greenlighted last year that banned DEI initiatives at public universities. The bill went into effect early this year.

The layoffs are effective in as little as 90 days, the Texas-based outlet reported.

The school’s president, Jay Hartzell, said in an email obtained by The Statesman that although the institutions made adjustments before the start of this year, “we knew that more work would be required to utilize our talent and resources most effectively in support of our teaching and research missions, and ultimately, our students.”

“The new law has changed the scope of some programs on campus, making them broader and creating duplication with long-standing existing programs supporting students, faculty, and staff,” Hartzell said.

“Following those reviews, we have concluded that additional measures are necessary to reduce overlaps, streamline student-facing portfolios, and optimize and redirect resources into our fundamental activities of teaching and research.”

The layoffs come as other state public institutions face intensified scrutiny to prove their compliance with the law. State Sen. Brandon Creighton told university leaders in a letter last week that institutions could miss out on funding if the law is not followed.

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