How the Administration Brought CSJ to USD 

Woke ideology came to USD first gradually then suddenly (to borrow from Ernest Hemingway).  Gradually, over the course of a decade, CSJ-DEI became sown into the university’s fabric through changes in hiring committees and curriculum.  Then suddenly in 2020-2021 the administration, outside all normal channels of decision-making, initiated a hostile takeover of USD and adopted a radical woke agenda into nearly all facets of the university’s life. 


The Sudden 2020 Hostile Takeover

The sudden revolution at USD came from two events—the establishment of an Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF) in 2020 and the Horizon Project in 2021, which implemented the schemes of the ARTF.  This was not part of the strategic planning on campus, and few even know what was being passed behind closed doors. 

ARTF was established at the order of the Board of Trustees in Oct 2020, without faculty input and almost without anyone knowing it was happening.  It was based on the idea that urgent action was needed to fight systemic racism and white supremacy at USD.  ARTF undertook a revolution under its mandate.  It constituted itself into four sub-committees: (1) Anti-Racism Training; (2) Policies related to Acts of Intolerance and Acts of Hate;’ (3) Faculty Recruitment, Hiring & Retention; and (4) Student Recruitment and Retention.  5-6 weeks after its initial meeting, its 25-page report,[1] containing forty-one recommendations, was published on December 5, 2020. 


Here are some representative actions that ARTF recommends:

ARTF recommended “annual mandatory campus-wide antiracism training.” 

  • Why is this needed?  According to ARTF, “Students, faculty, and staff are experiencing acts of intolerance and hate.”[2]
  • This claim is made despite the fact that USD had no hate crimes reported in 2017 and 2018, according to its own Clery Act reporting.[3]  No actual examples of “racism” were mentioned, nor were any civil rights claims filed.
  •  The ARTF’s report justifies its recommendations in Appendix A of its report and but never bothers trying to justify the false premise of racism and civil rights claims.
  •  ARTF also recommends all manner of primary, secondary, and tertiary trainings on sundry DEI themes such “Intersectionality, Power, and Privilege,” “The Problem of Colorblind Racism,” and “Catholicism and Antiracism.”
  • It would have all students get Black Minds Matter: Realizing the Brilliance, Dignity, and Morality of Black Males in Education.  Refresher courses and additional training would proceed in subsequent years.    

ARTF recommends a “revision to USD’s Hate Crimes and Acts of Intolerance policies and practices.” 

  • This change would consist in adding “acts of hate” to the list of prohibited Acts of Intolerance that students could report to the Center for Inclusion and Diversity for investigation. 
  • An act of hate would include, among other things, anything that “openly. . . has a history of vilifying, humiliating, or expression hatred against memes of a group.” 
  • Examples of such an act of hate would include, according to ARTF, saying something to a smart Asian friend like “Asians always do well in school.”[4]
  • The ARTF also recommended including anti-bias measures in student evaluations of professors; a black summer immersion program; required student attendance at diversity events; enhanced support for black graduate students; a new policy for cluster hires; and the diversification of the Board of Trustees so that it more fully supports USD’s new DEI mission. 

All forty-one recommendations are available in the report.  Many elements of the ARTF’s report become reality in the Horizon Program and are ongoing in 2021, with further releases expected near the end of the 2021-22 academic year.  Rather than sponsor open discussion, with all involved with defining constructive improvements, the Administration took the recommendations of the ARTF and institutionalized them into a hostile remake of the culture and the way of life at USD.

Horizon Project.  In 2020, the USD Board of Trustees, chaired by Donald Knauss, approved the “Horizon Project,” a “multiyear, comprehensive, and strategic initiative for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”   Never the subject of faculty deliberation, the Horizon Project reconceptualizes education itself. “Education is framed in terms of action” and the action is supposed to promote the agenda of “diversity, inclusion and social justice.”  

Implicit Bias Training for Everyone.  According to the Horizon plan, “all students are required to complete an online education requirement which includes training related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”  In fact, later in the Horizon Plan, the mandate goes further: “Mandate campus-wide anti-racism and implicit bias training for all members of the university community.”[5]   

Diversity Statements in Job Postings.  The Department of Philosophy at USD now requires a “diversity statement” from job applicants.[6]  Thus new faculty must pledge fealty to this ideology in order to be considered for jobs.  This movement shows all signs of becoming the policy throughout USD.

Cluster Hire Policy.[7]  To go with the aggressive affirmative action program for hiring, USD has added a “cluster” hire project.  Cluster hires are faculty who do not fit neatly into one department or discipline.  The university is aiming to create a cluster of faculty around a particular area of study and then bring diverse disciplinary approaches to that area.  So, for instance, a university may establish “urban life” as a cluster of hires.  Political scientists who specialize in urban politics, sociologists who study urban life, biologists who study urban diseases; architects who study urban design.  On the other hand, cluster hires generally take power away from faculty to make decisions based on professional, disciplinary competence and put power into the hands of central administration. 

The Associate Dean of Faculty must review and approve job descriptions to “ensure that language aligns with goals to increase the pool of candidates who are underrepresented in the discipline.”  If hiring committee conforms to recommendations, it can advertise.  Search committee must meet with “the Dean to discuss ‘hiring for mission’ and College diversity goals and all faculty must “complete Video Module Training” on “managing bias and Diversity and Inclusion.” 

Each committee must have a “DEI lead for the search process,” who will have additional training in how to attract minority candidates.  The DEI lead will have “the responsibility to call a ‘time out’ during the evaluation process. . . if there are questions about the process.”  The DEI lead can also collate the numbers to see if all pools are indeed representative of the disciplinary demographics and recommend pulling the plug on searches that do not.  This was originally an ARTF recommendation.

Faculty Evaluation Policies.  Contributions to DEI ideology and activism are becoming central to faculty evaluations.  According to the Horizon Plan, USD plans to “update Policy 4.2 [related to rank and tenure decisions] to include issues relevant to anti-bias in student evaluations of faculty.”[8]   There are a few indications suggesting that participation in “changemaking” and “engaged scholarship task force” recommendations will also be part of faculty evaluation processes in the future.  Elements of this were in the ARTF recommendation.  One must wonder if faculty have been consulted about these changes--or whether this is part of the hostile administrative takeover of USD.  At least one faculty member has left USD for another university that does not have these ideological policies and adherence requirements.


Horizon Project aims to:  

o   increase enrollment and employment for racial minorities, aiming at 25% of USD student body being Hispanic by 2026,

o   prioritize women and minority owned business in university procurement,[9]

o   redouble affirmative action hiring to include “incentive-based hiring plan specific for BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) faculty,”[10]

o   appoint members to Board of Trustees who share DEI vision,

o   elevate the importance of race in hiring, promotion, faculty evaluations, and tenure decisions,  

o   revise USD’s Hate Crime and Acts of Intolerance policies,

o   include issues relevant to “anti-bias” in student evaluations of faculty.[11]


The Long March to the Woke Revolution at USD

But the ground for these radical programs were laid in the years running up to 2020.  The riots created the pretext for a long-planned expansion of CSJ/DEI efforts at USD (see detailed timeline in Appendix A).  USD’s strategic plan, “Envisioning 2024: Because the World Needs Changemakers” initiated a quiet revolution, gradually bringing the ideology to all aspects of the USD’s operation.  Among its five goals were “Strengthening Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice” and “Elevating Faculty and Staff Engagement.”  Nearly every action in the past years is traceable to programs, objectives, and hires within “Envisioning 2024.”  

Enrollment.  Many of the metrics concern goals and timelines for the enrollment of minority students.  USD hopes that 50% of its undergraduates and graduate students will be minorities by 2024. It is moving toward that number: whereas about 36% of each was a minority in 2016, and about 41% of undergraduates and 43% of graduate students are minorities as of 2020.  It also hopes to recruit more Catholic students, but it is failing perhaps for lack of effort. The percentage of Catholic students has dropped from 37% in 2016 to 34% in 2020.  

Core Curriculum Diversity Requirements. Double the courses about diversity and tightening the regulations to ensure that they achieve their goals.

Faculty Recruitment. The Diversity Toolkit requires that all members of search committees be trained in implicit bias before beginning their work; it requires that all pools be certified as duly representative by appropriate Deans; USD has adopted an “incentive-based hiring plan specific for BIPOC faculty,” though it is unclear who gets the incentives (if there are lures for the minority faculty or if home departments get rewarded for hiring minority faculty). 

As per the Diversity Toolkit, departments write broad (not specialized) job descriptions to encourage more minority candidates; the administration recommends diverse search committees, so that the dominant culture can be watched and held accountable for its implicit biases; it recommends setting “minimum qualifications” for each position so that diversity can decide among those who are minimally qualified.  It recommends watering down qualifications to attract more minorities--asking such questions as “is a Ph.D. or terminal degree in a specific field necessary?”

Center for Educational Excellence (CEE) programming.  The CEE is not exclusively dedicated to DEI promotion, but that is its main focus.  It offers an “inclusive excellence” program for faculty, a DEI book club, and it has gained the power to incentivize attendance at its seminars and events, offering faculty modest stipends to attend DEI programming.  No such programming exists for writing in clear English or applying Catholic faith to today’s unique national challenges.  

The “inclusive excellence” program is more than half the whole program.  Its mission is to provide “opportunities for learning and engaging on topics such as social justice, race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, native students, intersectionality, universal design learning, disability, and veteran students.”  And its programming is quite extensive and incentivized. 

Often faculty are paid to participate in such seminars as “Worthy of Wellness Workshop Series for BIPOC Students, Staff, and Faculty” and “Black Lives Matter: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Course” or in book clubs around books like “Me and White Supremacy.”  Awards for “Racial Equity” determined by black faculty are part of its mission as well.  

Changemaker Fellows.  USD aims to have 20% of its faculty become “changemaker” fellows by 2024.  Over 16 percent already have completed the fellowship. Through workshops, faculty learn two aspects of Critical Social Justice ideology.  First, they learn about how to conduct community engagement.  In practice, community engagement means having the university serve political groups outside the university.  For instance, working with women’s shelters to receive free abortions is “community engagement,” as is going door-to-door for climate change.  Second, workshops for fellows during 2020-2021 explore “how to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into their pedagogy and were also provided with texts to foster discussions on anti-Black racism and racial justice.”


Conclusion:  Few at USD knew what was happening or were genuinely consulted when the CSJ/DEI revolution came first gradually, then suddenly.  Now under the Horizon Project, USD’s administration has embedded DEI into its curriculum, student recruitment, faculty recruitment, orientation, and elsewhere.  From mandatory anti-bias training to promises, to implicit bias training for all search committees, to using anti-bias as a criterion for evaluating professors, to making “the act of hate” an actionable violation of student conduct, to encouraging Changemaker Fellows to proselytize off campus on climate change fear, abortion, and racism, USD has put itself on a trajectory where an education for excellence in the service of our nation and the Christian faith is diluted.  

[1] Microsoft Word - ARTF_Recommendations_December_7_Final.docx (

[2] Microsoft Word - ARTF_Recommendations_December_7_Final.docx (

[3] Clery Act Report, 2019, see page 25.

[4]See Anti-Racism Task Force final report, pp. 8-9 :


[6] Assistant Professor, job posting:


[8]The old policy, not yet revised as of August 16, 2021, can be found here:

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