Higher Education

J.E. McReynolds | November 15, 2021

Woke librarians and indigenous people of color: Oklahoma higher ed is hiring

J.E. McReynolds

Oklahoma’s institutions of advanced learning are promoting a Woke agenda. As we've noted, universities are pushing “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) when seeking candidates for open positions. [See parts one, two, three, four, five, and six in this series.]

Academic qualifications? Nice enough, but applicants better have strong DEI bona fides or they might not be considered. Wokeness has infected the mindset of university personnel recruiters. Sadly, there's no vaccine for this mentality.

In fact, researchers working under the auspices of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) found that nearly one in five professors are being selected based not only on academic merit but also “their commitment to a particular ideological vision.”

In a report released last week (“Other than merit: The prevalence of diversity, equity, and inclusion statements in university hiring”), James D. Paul and Robert Maranto examined 999 job listings in higher ed. They found that 19 percent require submission of a “diversity statement.” Sixty-eight percent include the terms “diversity” or “diverse” in some way. The trend has accelerated at the nation's most elite institutions, which are 21 percentage points more likely to require DEI statements and 13 percentage points more likely to reference “diversity.” By region, schools in the West are most likely to recruit based partly on DEI credentials.

Oklahoma is hardly immune. Consider some examples from recent job postings in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University of Oklahoma's School of Music is seeking an “applied voice” teacher “who has a strong commitment to cultivating diversity and academic excellence...” Perhaps the successful candidate is expected to give voice to the Woke mantras.

Over at OU's sociology department, an assistant or associate professor is being sought to work in the field of childhood and health or well-being as “broadly defined.” That's somewhat vague but the target is clearly defined: “We strongly encourage applications from women, members of minority groups, veterans, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and all others who are committed to excellence, inclusion, and diversity.” All others? Hmm. Mayhap they can apply at a community college which hasn't yet swallowed the DEI Kool-Aid.

OU's A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre is on the hunt for an assistant professor of performance: “We are seeking an acting teacher/stage director who … can equip our majors with the skills to develop their unique artistic voice, explore and expose oppressive structures and power dynamics within our culture ...” The candidate must help the students “to become leaders in a more equitable theatre industry for the 21st century.”

Lest there be any doubt, the school says it values “inclusion, diversity, and belonging as foundational to our teaching and daily practice” and is committed to that work “through mindful programming and intentional recruitment.”

Oh, in case we forgot, the job listing adds, “We fully recognize, support, and advocate for the sovereign rights of all of Oklahoma's 39 tribal nations. This acknowledgment is aligned with our university's core value of creating a diverse and inclusive community.”

This sounds like something out of Samuel Becket and the Theatre of the Absurd. But it's real and it will get more absurd.

Okay, so the artistic community has always been “out there.” But what about the supposed paragon of objectivity called journalism. It seems the DEI Delta strain has infected that bastion as well.

Sad to say but my career-long profession and a journalism school named after my employer for 30 years (as well as headed by my boss for most of those years) is front-paging DEI these days. OU's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication seeks a tenure-track assistant professor in digital video storytelling and production. That's a mouthful already, but don't apply if you can't demonstrate familiarity with “underrepresented positions, such as Latinx or BIPOC (black and indigenous people of color) perspectives.”

The ideal candidate would come from an “ethnically diverse” background, including “but not limited to,” BIPOC, Asian Americans and Latinx. If this sounds like race-based preferential hiring, it is. And for what?

The American Enterprise Institute researchers cite numerous studies with the conclusion that diversity-related personnel management approaches “have underperformed or even proved counterproductive in diversifying leadership and improving intergroup relations in the medium and long term.”

Objective information no longer matters much in academia in general or, apparently, journalism in particular. Never let the facts get in the way of a Woke narrative!

Even OU’s School of Library and Information Studies isn’t immune. The school is looking to hire “an innovative scholar in the area of Indigenous knowledge,” an area that includes “decolonization and social justice in information studies … A successful candidate for this position will be able to … develop new courses such as … Critical Perspectives and Social Justice in LIS.”

Sadly, DEI requirements (and Wokism generally) are likely to grow in coming years. What starts at Berkeley doesn't stay in California.

Look for DEI job postings to infect your local community colleges and even K-12 school districts. No face mask out there can protect us from this variant.

[For more articles about higher education in Oklahoma, visit]

J.E. McReynolds


A former managing editor of The Journal Record, J. E. McReynolds has served as a general assignment reporter, business editor, and opinion editor of The Oklahoman.

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