DEI Summit to focus on humanity, mental health, spiritual diversity


The University of Michigan community will focus on nurturing the heart, mind and soul at the 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit on Oct. 12.

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the summit will provide an opportunity for U-M students, faculty and staff to examine the role of the arts in supporting humanity, mental health and wellness, and religious and spiritual diversity.

“Although distinct, these topics all address ways that we connect our various personal and social identities to the broader world,” said Tabbye Chavous, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“As we reflect on our experiences navigating a global pandemic and the social inequality and justice issues that were especially illuminated over the past two and a half years, this theme is timely and addresses important aspects of how we cope and thrive as individuals and a community.”

The community assembly and discussion will kick off the summit from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Power Center for the Performing Arts and will feature a short series of TED-style talks and a moderated panel discussion on the event’s theme, DEI: Nurturing the Heart, Mind & Soul.

Speakers include:

  • Todd Boyd, otherwise known as “Notorious Ph.D,” media commentator, author, producer, consultant and hip-hop scholar.
  • Sarah Hurwitz, spiritual adviser, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief speechwriter and author of “Here All Along.”
  • Dena Scott, clinical psychologist at Headspace Health.

The discussion will be moderated by Melissa Borja, assistant professor of American culture and a member in the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program in LSA.

The community assembly also will feature student performances and brief remarks from university leadership, including Chavous, President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Laurie McCauley.

The event will be in-person after two years of virtual programming and also will be livestreamed, recorded and posted on the DEI Summit website.

Previous assemblies have featured several notable keynote speakers and panelists, including political commentator Van Jones, journalist Soledad O’Brien, and actors Diane Guerrero and Wendell Pierce.

This year’s summit will mark the end of the university’s DEI 1.0 evaluation process, which was the first year in the two-year transition to DEI 2.0. It also begins the second year of transition, which will be a year of planning for DEI 2.0.

“We will prioritize community engagement to learn from each other how we can build on the efforts of DEI 1.0 to be more strategic, more collaborative and have more grassroots engagement,” said Katrina Wade-Golden, deputy chief diversity officer and director of implementation for the campuswide DEI Strategic Plan.

Separately, an information session to disseminate findings from the university’s DEI 1.0 evaluation report will take place at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 19 in the Michigan Union Rogel Ballroom.

That event will be an opportunity to learn about the impact and outcomes of DEI efforts in U-M’s initial five-year strategic plan, and to discuss how the university can leverage the successes and opportunities for growth in the development of DEI 2.0.

The DEI Summit will feature events throughout the month of October. Other central DEI events scheduled during the summit include:

  • U-M students will have an opportunity to meet leaders from the Office of Student Life and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at a student open house from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Oct 12 at the Michigan Union Rogel Ballroom. The event, which also is open to faculty and staff, will feature a DJ, 360-degree photo booth, free food, prizes and giveaways.
  • Wynton Marsalis, world-renowned trumpeter, bandleader and composer, and a leading advocate of American culture, will sit down with U-M athletic director Warde Manuel to explore art, athletics and the creative process at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Michigan Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
  • The opening event for the Toward An Anti-ableist Academy Mini Conference will focus on issues of digital accessibility. The What and Why of Digital Accessibility: Unpacking U-M’s Newest Disability Policy will be a Zoom event at 11 a.m. Oct. 20. It will feature expert presenters discussing digital accessibility and why it matters for more inclusive organizations and products. The conference will include several sessions in October and November. Registration is required.
  • An online panel conversation moderated by Elizabeth Cole, director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, will feature a conversation among experts discussing mental health challenges among Black communities, including intersections of spirituality and gender. That event will take place at noon Oct. 20, and registration is required.

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