Diversity Summit to celebrate progress, address challenges


The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit will give campus community members the opportunity to learn about the work completed during the past year on both universitywide and unit-based plans to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

Events from the summit, set for Nov. 6-10, include a keynote speaker, an interactive panel and a ceremonial groundbreaking for a campus multicultural center.

“The summit is a way of making it clear to our community that diversity, equity and inclusion are part of the fabric of our community; that DEI is not a fad,” says Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“This week of central and unit activities is an opportunity to hold ourselves publicly accountable to our plan and to celebrate our accomplishments. It is a chance to shine a light on what is working well and to move on from what is not working.”

In October 2016, the university launched its five-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “The Strategic Plan for DEI: Year One Progress Report” will be shared with the campus community Nov. 8.

Claude Steele, a professor of psychology from Stanford University best known for his work on stereotype threat and social identity threat, will deliver the summit’s opening keynote address from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Michigan League Ballroom.

Steele’s research has focused on the experience and consequences of threats to the self, as well as how people facing different stereotypes can have different experiences in similar situations. In his keynote address, he will discuss the psychological significance of a diverse community and its role in learning.

On Nov. 8, a groundbreaking for the new William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center will begin at 11:30 a.m. on South State Street near the Betsy Barbour and Helen Newberry residences.

At 3 p.m. that same day, a community gathering will take place at Rackham Auditorium, where President Mark Schlissel and Sellers will deliver a progress report about the initial year of DEI plan implementation.

The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with four U-M Bicentennial Alumni Award recipients:

• Tonya Allen, president and chief operating officer of The Skillman Foundation.

• Rebecca Alexander, a psychotherapist, author, extreme athlete and disability advocate.

• Carla Dirlikov Canales, a singer, entrepreneur and arts advocate.

• Damon A. Williams, chief catalyst for the Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership & Social Innovation, and a senior scholar and innovation fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The members of this panel represent three distinct examples of what this university can do through its students, alumni, faculty and staff. Each member of this panel has embraced his or her own social identity and leveraged that to personal success,” Sellers explains.

“Each of them will share the wisdom gained through their experiences since leaving our campus. I also think our community will be impressed with their sense of optimism for what we can accomplish as we work together.”

Later that evening, from 5:30-9 p.m., a student-organized DEI summit will focus on developing actionable plans to improve the campus climate.

The university will host information sessions during the summit to share data from U-M’s recent campuswide climate survey, in which officials gathered insights from a scientific sample of 3,500 students, 1,500 faculty and 3,500 staff.

The student results session will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Willis Ward Lounge in the Michigan Union.

A staff session will start at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 8 in the Michigan League Ballroom. Doors will open at 8 a.m. RSVP online.

The faculty session will be part of the regular Senate Assembly meeting from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Michigan Union’s Anderson Room.


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