Despite challenges, report indicates DEI progress at U-M


The Ann Arbor campus community has made notable progress implementing and living out the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion, according to the University of Michigan’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Year Four Progress Report that was released Oct. 26.

New initiatives, updates about existing projects and successes were reported from across the campus, despite an abrupt mid-semester shift to online learning earlier this year — due to COVID-19 — and as a series of high-profile incidents of police violence against Black Americans brought the issue of systemic racism to the forefront of the national discourse.

“We acknowledge the unprecedented challenges that our community has faced while also reflecting on the tremendous strides we have made,” said Robert Sellers, chief diversity officer and vice provost for equity and inclusion.

“As we assess where we are at the end of our DEI strategic plan’s fourth year and the unique challenges we have faced, we readily acknowledge that we still have a great deal of work to do to accomplish our goals.”

The report highlighted that more than 1,600 students from low-income families received a total of $19 million in institutional and federal support to cover the entire cost of tuition and fees through the Go Blue Guarantee.

Since its rollout in winter 2018, the Go Blue Guarantee has made education on the U-M campus more affordable for families with incomes of $65,000 or less and assets less than $50,000, providing financial aid packages totaling, at minimum, the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees.

In continued efforts to support minority students, Wolverine Pathways, the college pipeline program for middle and high school students, enrolled 649 scholars, 86 of whom graduated high school in the 2019-20 school year and continued their education at selective colleges nationwide.

The program also conducted its first on-campus summer institute for 11th-grade scholars, hosted remote summer camps for its eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grade students, and developed a near-peer mentoring program that connects Wolverine Pathways scholars with U-M undergraduates.

The university continued its commitment to advancing work surrounding sexual misconduct, launching a new interim policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct. The Department of Organizational Learning introduced “Cultivating a Culture of Respect,” a mandatory online training for faculty and staff designed to raise awareness of U-M’s commitment to creating a safe, harassment-free working and learning environment.

The stated goal was 100 percent participation by December 2019. As of June 2020, 98 percent of faculty and staff had completed the module.

To further support U-M employees, Organizational Learning used a new DEI Lifelong Learning Model to design educational resources for units and groups across campus. The department refocused its programs in the midst of the pandemic and social justice movement, offering and sharing several online resources including the highly praised “Sheltering in Love” series and the “Anti-Racism Primer: What Can I Do.”

From the DEI strategic plan’s launch in October 2016 through June 2020, Organizational Learning and Michigan Medicine have together offered 1,049 instructor-led courses serving 30,878 participants.

Targeting faculty, U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching continued to facilitate its teaching academy programs that support faculty in 10 of U-M’s schools and colleges.

Campuswide, CRLT offered 41 faculty workshops and retreats, presented 22 DEI-focused pedagogy workshops and offered programs for instructors teaching courses that fulfill LSA’s race and ethnicity requirement.

During the fall 2019 and winter 2020 terms, 1,370 graduate student instructors and undergraduate instructional aides attended inclusive teaching sessions at GSI teaching orientations.

Students showed their commitment to DEI by forming the Student Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Board, which assesses U-M’s infrastructure in terms of its ability to support and include students impacted by barriers relating to disability, accessibility or ableism.

In year four, the university began implementing IDEA Board recommendations by modifying building codes, creating an accessibility map for the Ann Arbor campus and leveraging technology to support time-sensitive emergency response resources for disabled individuals.

A full list of DEI Year Four highlights, progress updates on major campuswide action items, and links to the 50 unit-based strategic plans, as well as a database of over 2,400 action items within those plans, can be found in the report website, along with videos and infographics.

“The challenges are ever-present, and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion must remain strong,” President Mark Schlissel said. “Ensuring that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive is at the heart of our mission as a public university.”


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