COLUMBUS, Ohio – With racial tensions boiling over in some sectors of society, transgender issues provoking debate, and progressive academics pushing radical concepts like “white privilege,” universities have been investing more money in departments and programs addressing racial and cultural diversity.

Al SharptonAt some schools, like Ohio State University, it’s a great deal of money.

The OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which focuses on “the recruitment, retention and success of students, faculty and staff who enhance the diversity of The Ohio State University,” spent a great deal of money on administrative salaries, fees for guest speakers, hotels, air travel and food in fiscal 2014-15, according to a university response to an open records request.

The top 10 salaries (without benefits included) for department administrators added up to $1.26 million.

That total included a $267,000 salary for the vice provost, who is apparently the head of the department. That person actually made $333,759, but the balance above the $267,000 was covered by a source outside the department.

Other top salaries went to the assistant vice provost ($161,211), executive director ($159,180), the senior associate director ($111,520) and another assistant vice provost ($104,889). Three other salaries were in the $90,000 range while two were in the $80,000 range.

The department also hosted, and paid a significant amount of money for, a series of speakers — so-called “social justice warriors” — who made very quick visits to reinforce the department’s preferred social and political concepts.

One interesting speaker was Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who is mentioned prominently as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

He was paid a handsome fee of $15,000 through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to appear on campus on May 6, 2014. He also received airline reimbursement for up to $2,000, one free night of hotel lodging, “first class” ground transportation in Columbus, and meals and incidentals “per artist’s specifications.”

For all of that, he gave one lunch speech, participated in a 15-minute “meet and greet” session, and spent an hour with representatives from various campus groups.

The Rev. Al Sharpton addressed an OSU audience on Jan. 14, 2015 during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. He received $12,500, a two-night hotel stay with free meals and reimbursement for travel costs, according to his contract.

His contract stipulated “first class travel for Rev. Al Sharpton and coach transportation for guest.”

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile visited campus on Jan. 16, 2014. Her contract stipulated that she would give a “30 to 35 minute” speech and participate in a half hour reception, for a fee of $10,800. She also received a free one-night hotel stay, free meals and free ground transportation, according to the contract.

Author Ana Castillo made two appearances at OSU in 2014 for a total fee of $11,000, along with airline tickets, two nights in a hotel for each visit, meals and ground transportation covered by the department.

The most expensive speaker was author Will Haygood, who wrote the novel “The Butler.” He received a $16,300 fee for a “35-minute diversity lecture,” a 15-minute question and answer session with the audience, a reception and book signing, and a 90-minute roundtable discussion with selected individuals on Jan. 16, 2014.

He also received two nights of free lodging, as well as complimentary meals and ground transportation.

Feminist Sil Lai Abrams was paid $5,150 plus all travel expenses to make three speeches in November 2015.

Travel and food costs also drove up the Office of Diversity and Inclusion budget in 2014-15.

The department staff had 126 transactions at various hotels around the nation for a total tab of $42,260.

That included a lot of stays at distant hotels, like the Marriott Atlanta Marquis on September 24, 2014. There were seven different transactions at the hotel for $1,096 apiece, coming to a total of $7,673.

There were three transactions at the Hilton Tampa on March 8, 2015, totaling $2,336.

The department staff also did quite a bit of business at hotels on our near the OSU campus. For example, there were nine transactions at Homewood Suites Columbus for a total of $2,086.

The department had 163 transactions with various airlines, coming to a grand total of $46,279.

That brings the department’s combined hotel and travel tab for one year to $88,539.  Add on other costs, like car rental fees, and it comes to $91,658.

The department also had 154 restaurant/catering transactions totaling $37,979.