Community assembly to gather input for U-M’s Culture Journey


Community input has been key in shaping work to strengthen U-M’s workplace culture and identify a set of unifying shared values. A virtual community assembly from noon-1 p.m. Sept. 28 will provide updates on the university’s Culture Journey and its next steps.

Featured speakers include President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Laurie McCauley, Chief Organizational Learning Officer Sonya Jacobs and other campus partners. They will share how this work is progressing, what has been learned so far, and how faculty and staff can engage in the next stage of the journey.

The event will include a Q&A session for the U-M community to ask questions about the Culture Journey.

“The goal for this initiative is that anyone who walks the halls of the University of Michigan can experience the desired culture, feel psychologically, physically and socially safe and can bring their best selves to work every day,” said Jacobs, special adviser to the president, chief organizational learning officer and senior director for faculty and leadership development at Michigan Medicine.

A faculty and staff pulse poll — that closes Sept. 9 — is collecting input. This poll is collecting data to determine:

  • Whether to treat diversity, equity and inclusion as separate values or as one combined value.
  • Whether excellence should be defined as a value or an outcome.
  • What accountability looks like.

Preliminary findings from this poll will be shared at the community assembly Sept. 28.

Throughout the fall, faculty and staff groups will continue to participate in defining workplace values and behaviors for campuswide adoption.

The university began its Culture Journey in the summer of 2021 and has been regularly engaging with faculty and staff. Engagement methods have included information sessions, polls and focus groups. The goal is to identify which values best represent the workplace culture faculty and staff wish to create.

The following have been identified as top values where the university excels:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Academic excellence.
  • Collaboration.

Participants have cited the following as areas where the university needs to improve:

  • Lack of accountability.
  • Leaders not modeling values.
  • Not having all elements of the U-M culture reflect its values.

The Culture Journey working group synthesized this information to develop recommendations for next steps. These recommendations were presented to the Board of Regents in June and are available on the Culture Journey website.

The current scope of U-M’s Culture Journey includes the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine. A recording of the upcoming community assembly will be available on the site after the event.


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