Statement from NADOHE President & CEO Paulette Granberry Russell on the Gutting of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Florida

March 2, 2024

The recent news of the University of Florida’s elimination of its diversity, equity, and inclusion staff hits hard. The loss of jobs and the dismantling of programs is evidence of the real effect legislative attacks are having on years of effort to advance diversity and inclusion in higher education. They come at the expense of students, who will suffer without programs and people to support their educational journey. 

It was our hope that the good faith adjustments to the work of the institution to comply with SB 266 would not result in the termination of employees. What is readily apparent is that it does not matter what adjustments or commitments are made to comply with the law, the objective is the elimination of proactive strategies and the return to an era in which tailored efforts to address the needs of a diverse campus are abandoned.

While those who stand in opposition to these efforts misrepresent diversity, equity, and inclusion, we know the truth and will continue to respond to gross misrepresentations and lies. Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are intended to build campuses that are welcoming to all and that create an environment where students can reach their educational goals. They are vital for academic excellence, business success, the future of scientific advancement and national security, research, academic freedom and civic engagement, and institutions’ need to comply with state and federal laws. Let’s be clear: Legislation barring efforts to support students based on race, gender, color, national origin, and sexuality is arcane and intended to further marginalize groups that have historically been marginalized in this country.

NADOHE will continue to speak out forcefully against these attacks and in defense of its members, as it has since this recent wave of activism first infested our campuses. We fully expect other states to follow the repulsive path Florida has taken with its legislative efforts to disrupt the progress we have made over decades to expand access and opportunity for all students. We must stop this spread of legislation.

We will continue to speak and act in opposition to what is transpiring, and we need others who believe in the value of this work to join us and advocate for these initiatives. Our students — students of color, queer students, students with disabilities, women, first-generation students, veterans, students from lower-income backgrounds, and other students from all backgrounds — deserve nothing less. 


The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) is the preeminent voice for chief diversity officers. As the leader of the national conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it investigates, influences, and innovates to transform higher education so that inclusive excellence lives at its core.