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The University of Missouri System cuts diversity statements from its job postings

The University of Missouri’s columns stand in front of Dr. Richard H. Jesse Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the campus in Columbia, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The University of Missouri’s columns stand in front of Dr. Richard H. Jesse Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the campus in Columbia, Missouri.

The University of Missouri System has eliminated the use of diversity and inclusion statements in hiring.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi said in an email Monday that university officials regularly review hiring and recruitment practices for new faculty and staff to ensure university's practices align with its mission and with federal equal employment opportunity laws.

“The University of Missouri System remains dedicated to creating an environment free from discrimination,” Choi said.

Earlier this month, Missouri Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would reduce the use of diversity, equity and inclusion standards and practices for medical schools, medical licensing boards and state universities.

However, the university system’s spokesperson said the university did not halt its use of diversity statements in hiring practices because of proposed legislation. University officials saw inconsistencies within departments about diversity statements in job postings and wanted to review the language, the spokesperson said.

Choi said he also is aware of recent reports from media outlets that the university system’s diversity, equity and inclusion statements for hiring purposes were sometimes perceived as loyalty oaths or litmus tests. He added that the university does not use loyalty oaths or litmus tests in hiring, but that “a few of our job advertisements contained information that may give some readers the impression that such a request was inferred.”

To provide consistency throughout the university system, administrators developed a values commitment statement for all departments to use, which will replace its previous diversity statements immediately on all job postings, the spokesperson said.

The “values commitment” statement language is as follows:

This commitment makes our university a better place to work, learn and innovate. In your application materials, please discuss your experiences and expertise that support these values and enrich our missions of teaching, research and engagement.”

All departments within the university system do not have to add the statement to their job openings, but if departments want to include any sort of diversity, equity and inclusion statements, they must include the values commitment statement.

The university system also is scraping its inclusion, diversity, equity faculty hiring rubric that officials developed in 2018. The rubric included assessments of a potential employee’s basic skills in diversity, the person’s track record of advancing diversity and inclusion and their future plans for further advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

The university system spokesperson said the rubric was an optional guide to help hiring officials with interviews, but it will no longer be used throughout departments to remain consistent.

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Andrea Henderson joined St. Louis Public Radio in March 2019, where she covers race, identity and culture as part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America. Andrea comes to St. Louis Public Radio from NPR, where she reported for the race and culture podcast Code Switch and produced pieces for All Things Considered. Andrea’s passion for storytelling began at a weekly newspaper in her hometown of Houston, Texas, where she covered a wide variety of stories including hurricanes, transportation and Barack Obama’s 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Her art appreciation allowed her to cover arts and culture for the Houston African-American business publication, Empower Magazine. She also covered the arts for Syracuse’s Post-Standard and The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.