Substack: Why Can’t The University of Virginia Tell The Truth About Its $1 Billion DEI Plan? 48_UVA_DEI_Substack

March 21, 2024 05:52 PM



Photo by Ryan Ledbetter on Unsplash

By Adam Andrzejewski, OpenTheBooks CEO/Founder | Published at

“…a call for us to be the very best version of ourselves and to live our stated commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion to become a better university.”
Dr. James Ryan, President, University of Virginia, September 11, 2020

Recently, our auditors at found that the University of Virginia (UVA) employed 235 people in roles related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)costing taxpayers some $20 million for salaries and benefits last year.


Our report broke in the Washington Examiner and made national news. It hit multiple primetime shows on Fox News, the nightly news on the nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a retweet by Elon Musk, and a hearing by the U.S. House subcommittee on Education and the Workforce.


UVA’s extravagance on the taxpayer’s tab is in stark contrast to the University of Florida, which terminated 28 staffers two weeks ago to redirect $5 million in student and taxpayer costs into needed scholarships for would-be students.


UVA’s stunning headcount includes 82 student interns with many paid the equivalent of half to full tuition waivers. Every penny was parsed from university payroll produced by UVA itself – subject to our Virginia Freedom of Information Act request.


Furthermore,, an organization I lead, was fully transparent about our methodology. We released to the public on our website all the data in easy-to-use format: name, position title, department, and cash compensation last year.


Not one UVA DEI employee disputed their role – despite being highlighted in the national media. We reached out to several for comment but did not hear back.


But UVA chief spokesman Brian Coy, who makes $220,000, told national outlets like the Daily Mail and the Washington Times, UVA has only 55 people in such positions.


Coy said our numbers are “wildly inflated.”


However, we have learned the exact opposite – it’s UVA that has continuously undercounted DEI staffers for the last year. 

In April 2023, UVA told the New York Times it had only 40 DEI positions. In June 2023, the university told its governing body, the Board of Visitors, it has 55 DEI staffers.



The Ryan administration and their presentation in June 2023 to the UVA Board of Visitors undercounting DEI headcounts and spending.



To get to the bottom of the bafflegab, we reached out to Coy. We asked for his proof of the 55 DEI staff positions. Coy did not respond. 

We asked his deputy, Marshall Eckblad, Senior Director of Media Relations at $140,000 base pay last year, to explain.  Nothing back from Eckblad, either.


So, we filed another Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for the University’s backup for the claim of “only” 55 DEI staff positions.

UVA’s reply? “[T]he University has no records responsive to your request.”


That is a stunning admission


After a thorough search for back-up for a report to its own governing body, its Board of Visitors, the FOIA department at UVA responded that no records exist.



In the summer of 2020, after riots across the country that were blamed on the death of George Floyd, UVA President James Ryan authorized a Racial Equity Task Force to review, consult, and make recommendations regarding DEI policies and the university response.


The task force gave detailed recommendations for spending up to $1 billion to rectify supposed systemic and structural racism at the university, including:

  • immediate investments of $100-$150 million on race-based equity projects over the next three to five years,

  • a long-term endowed fund of $500-$650 million for equity projects,

  • and another $100-$150 million for racial scholarships and faculty chairs.

“There is little hope for reconciliation without repair, so paying our debts to the descendants of enslaved laborers who built and operated this University without compensation is a vital contribution to progress.”

Racial Equity Task Force report, September 11, 2020

The plan was approved by the Board of Visitors on September 11, 2020.



Why did the university spokesman, Brian Coy, and James Ryan’s administration at UVA, aggressively attack our findings and try to discredit our oversight work in the national media?


Why won’t UVA own its $1 billion DEI plan?


Why is the university misleading their governing Board of Visitors? 


Why is the University founded by Thomas Jefferson misleading the national press, their students and Virginia taxpayers by understating its DEI program?


UVA’s administration is simply not counting its DEI positions. The administration is deliberately misleading its governing board, the public, Virginia’s taxpayers, and the media.


UVA’s own payroll disclosures show almost 150 positions in the following departments/offices:

-Equity Center (110 positions)

-Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (18 positions)

-Office of Diversity and Engagement (7 positions)

-Diversity and Inclusion/Inclusion and Diversity (4 positions)

-Center for Diversity (4 positions)

-Diversity and Community Engagement (3 positions)

-Diversity Office (2 positions)


And those numbers don’t tell the whole story.


We found approximately 30 other people working in DEI roles sprinkled throughout other departments, including the urology department, Occupational Programs, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the psychology department, the medical school, the library system, and more. 


Again, of our all information comes from the university payroll produced to us by UVA itself and you can review it for yourself


Then, there are another almost 50 people working in roles advancing equality for women, minorities and disabled in the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center; Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights; Office of African American Affairs, Multicultural Student Services and the Center for Global Health Equity.


And we even admit that we didn’t capture all the staffers hidden in DEI roles throughout the university. There are more people employed in DEI roles and more spending that we didn’t find.



While is non-partisan – we hold both Republicans and Democrats accountable when they spend taxpayer money – we found it troubling that the UVA spokesman Brian Coy has a hyper-partisan political resume.


As the Associate Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for the university – a state institution – can Coy neutrally call balls and strikes so students, taxpayers, and the community can trust his statements?


Coy came of age on one side of the aisle. Before getting the big job at UVA, he worked as:

  • communications director for two Democratic governors of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam

  • communications director for the Virginia Democratic Party

  • press secretary for Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign,

  • an aide at a Democratic political direct mail firm, and at two public relations/government relations firms, before joining the UVA communications team in 2019.




In the national media, Coy said that some positions we highlighted at UVA are somehow not entirely DEI, so their salary shouldn’t be included. 


'The study seems to count individuals who have full-time positions in non-DEI posts and counts them as full time DEI staffers.'
Brian Coy spokesman for UVA to the

As an example, Coy pointed out top-paid Martin N. Davidson who holds an executive DEI position but is also a regular professor, Coy said.


However, Martin Davidson is a perfect example of just how deeply imbedded DEI is in every facet of the university and how it’s impossible to separate the man from his pay.


Davidson made $452,000 last year (an estimated $580,000 with benefits) and is titled in three positions: senior associate dean and global chief diversity officer at the prestigious Darden School of Business, a tenured professor, and acting executive director of the Contemplative Sciences Center at UVA.


  • As Senior Associate Dean and Global Chief Diversity Officer at the Darden School of Business, Davidson leads the DEI effort across every facet of the business school.

  • As the Johnson & Higgins Professor of Business Administration, his “thought leadership has changed how many executives approach inclusion, diversity and equity in their organizations.” Davidson even teaches a class (GBUS8706) titled after his book – a book on using DEI to leverage differences in organizations.

  • As interim executive director of the Contemplative Sciences Center at UVA, Davidson admits the position utilizes his skills in “cultural diversity,” “culture change,” and “organizational design.”

  • Despite making more than the U.S. president, the university excepted Davidson from ethics policies and allowed him to keep a second job – that of a DEI-premised consultant at his own firm. His clients include the World Health Organization (WHO), Walt Disney and others.

  • UVA sells Davidson’s book(s) on DEI in the university bookstore and has provided many platforms for Davidson to speak about his book(s) and promote them. His next book, also promoted on UVA websites, is titled, “Embrace the Weird.”

  • Davidson advocated on behalf of the fired Harvard president, Claudine Gay, and supported her on his social media pages while battling detractors.

  • Davidson is not accused of any wrongdoing. Conversely, UVA has promoted him in large part because of his DEI scholarship. First hired nearly 26 years ago, he has been afforded much acclaim. In 2014, he was awarded ‘DEI Leadership of the Year Award’ at UVA– as a professor.



With total compensation of $452,000 (2023), it looks like Davidson will make $398,800 $45,000 $105,000 the full cost of benefits for the forward 12-months of his new contract spanning 2023-2024. With cash compensation at $548,800 plus an estimated 30-percent for the cost of benefits, Davidson’s total cost to students and taxpayers could well approach $700,000.




We reached out to University spokesman Brian Coy a third time before publishing this article. He finally responded. His email – with our replies — is linked here.


If you expect to get the University’s top line number on the headcount of DEI staffers — and the annual costs of those staffers -- you will be disappointed.


If you expect to see a database of staffers that Coy says are under the DEI banner, you will be disappointed.


Coy denigrates our reporting further. We think he misses the mark. Here is our analysis of his five point response:

  • Coy conceded our point that Professor Martin Davidson is a DEI staffer. You can’t separate the man from his pay.

  • We noted the student workers as they were reported to us in the University’s database. Coy says that a majority function as tutors in nearby K-12 schools. Again, the University lists them as DEI, not us. It’s an admission of employment funded by the university through these DEI university departments.

  • 20 staffers function as “community counselors” for a college/career readiness program supporting educational opportunity. Again, an admission of employment funded by the university through these DEI university departments.

  • Coy says that some staffers in our database are hourly or part-time and treats them as full time employees resulting in dramatic overstatement of earnings. However, the amount paid to each employee was produced by the university itself. There’s no overstatement of earnings.

  • Coy says our database includes many positions that exist to oversee University compliance with federal law and state laws. Again, an admission of employment funded by the university through these overlapping DEI, Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights university departments.


We outlined and shared the full picture of the DEI efforts at UVA. Our works stands. Now, people of good will can debate the merits of each program in concert.


NOTE: The university still hasn’t released a database of their DEI staffers and our work is the only comprehensive study at UVA on the topic. We released our report on March 5, 2024.



UVA is in the midst of a $1 billion DEI program. Student tuition, progressive third-party foundations, and taxpayer money fund this massive initiative.


However, the tenets of DEI are fundamentally anti-American and radical. DEI is rightly seen as divisive, cutting at the fabric of “E pluribus Unum.” 


DEI judges the color of one’s skin, not the content – and competence – of one’s character. Merit and equal opportunity are tossed aside as racist. Instead, a neo-Marxist concept of “equal outcomes” is imposed on all social relationships.


Students, taxpayers and all who care about learning can look to Florida as the beacon of a new day. One may hope that Virginia, the birthplace of our Constitutional republic, home to birth places of individual rights and freedoms in America, will emulate the model.


Additional Reading

Download database: 235 Staffers In Roles Related To DEI At University of Virginia | Published by | March 5, 2024

University of Virginia Spends $20 Million On 235 DEI Employees, With Some Making $587,340 Per Year | by Adam Andrzejewski at | March 5, 2024

University Of Virginia EXPOSED For $20M Annual DEI Spend On 235 Staff, Including $243,000-A-Year Equity Tsar | Daily Mail | March 7, 2024

Taxpayers Help Foot $20 Million For DEI At University Of Virginia | by Gabe Kaminsky at The Washington Examiner |March 5, 2024

Pentagon Secretly Institutionalized DEI In Its K-12 Public Schools | by Adam Andrzejewski at | February 8, 2024

“Agitate, Agitate, Agitate”— Military's New Diversity Chief Hawks Books, Advocates “Revolution” In K-12 Schools | Adam Andrzejewski | | October 2022 

Military Stonewalls Investigation Into Controversial Diversity Official Leading K-12 Schools | Adam Andrzejewski | | March 2023 



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