The process is underway to broaden and deepen the University of Michigan’s capacity to develop and leverage cutting-edge scholarship aimed at dismantling systemic racism.

With renewed attention to racial justice across campus and the nation, Provost Susan M. Collins invited deans to create a cross-campus faculty hiring initiative that focuses on anti-racism, systemic racism, and racial injustice.

A three-year hiring initiative will bring to the Ann Arbor campus’ schools and colleges at least 20 new tenure-track faculty members — no more than eight in the first year — with scholarly expertise in racial inequality and structural racism.

“U-M’s position as a leading intellectual advocate for the benefits of diversity was enshrined by its research-based defenses in two landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court affirmative-action cases,” Collins said. “As a pre-eminent public institution, committed to building knowledge and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, the university should continue to pursue these aims through research, education and societal engagement that advances racial equity.”

The hiring initiative is designed to promote collaborative interactions among initiative faculty across units and with faculty experts already on campus, with the goal of helping the university and society better understand and pursue racial justice, and further establish U-M as a leader in the area of anti-racism efforts. 

The Provost’s Office will provide funding to support the faculty hires and for research and scholarship connected with the initiative. That support will include funding for graduate student staff assistants and postdocs, who will help build connections between researchers, as well as for catalyst grants to promote collaboration on new projects. The Provost’s Office also will provide innovation advancement grants for interdisciplinary team work.

In addition, the Office of Research will partner with the Provost’s Office and National Center for Institutional Diversity to mobilize and support research and scholarship under the initiative.

NCID is charged with promoting cohesion and collaboration for the initiative across units. It will provide resources to this broader community of scholars to develop new lines of research, and also partner with other units to engage new teaching strategies and curricular advancements, innovative trans-disciplinary training projects and new community-based partnerships.

“To facilitate a sense of community among initiative hires and expert faculty currently on campus, we will leverage our existing resources, including the Diversity Scholars Network, and extensive experience developing and supporting faculty with a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” said NCID Director Tabbye Chavous, professor of education and psychology and associate vice president for research. 

In conjunction with the hiring initiative, which targets faculty whose research and scholarship centers directly on racism, anti-racism and racial justice, the U-M Biosciences Initiative will be allowed to fill four tenure-track positions this year under its existing funding and hiring program for science, technology, engineering and math areas. The STEM faculty brought to campus will have a dedicated record of professional and civic practices that counteract bias and inequity in their field.

In early January 2021, deans and groups of faculty will be invited to submit proposals for linked hires of two or more tenure-track faculty members whose research or scholarship will advance understanding of anti-racism, systemic racism and racial injustice. 

Evaluation criteria for the proposals will include evidence of stimulating collaboration among new hires and existing U-M faculty, evidence of career development and support plans for initiative faculty, and evidence the expertise of new hires will impact existing curriculum.

A selection committee of faculty members with relevant subject expertise and deans will review proposals to initiate searches and make hires. Announcement of the selection committee membership is forthcoming.

“We look forward to receiving and reviewing the proposals from the university’s schools and departments,” Collins said. “We are especially excited to see the ideas and possibilities the cross-disciplinary engagement will yield.”

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