- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - The chancellor of the University of Illinois has ordered a study on the institution’s diversity efforts.

The university already spends millions each year on scholarships, recruitment efforts and other programs to diversify its student body and create a welcoming climate for people of all backgrounds, The News-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2fbVKgu ) reported.

But Chancellor Robert Jones wants to know if that money is well spent. He has called for a study on how the programs are structured, how they connect to similar programs across campus and what benchmarks they use to effectively target the money they receive.

Assata Zerai, associate chancellor for diversity, and Edward Feser, interim provost, will begin conducting the study within the next few weeks. The campus will then bring outside reviewers to provide recommendations for any changes.

Feser estimates about $55 million to $60 million annually go toward diversity programs and he said at least three-quarters of the funds goes toward student scholarships.

“But at this juncture, I don’t see a structure that allows us to get the return on those investments at the level that I would like to see,” said Jones. “We have to make sure we’re getting it right.”

Jones has worked in higher education diversity efforts for 30 years at other universities and said the issues of diversity and equity is “core” for him and the university. He said the campus operations efforts are “very decentralized” and also said some people have raised concerns about whether that’s the best structure.

“We have a lot of great stuff going on, but sometimes it’s hard to wrap your arms around it,” Feser said.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com

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