This week’s Summit on Diversity in Graduate Education drew more than 150 scholars and practitioners from across the country, seeking a better understanding of diversity’s role in the academic and social contexts of graduate school, and working to identify ways to effectively enhance and maintain diversity.
The summit, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday at the Rackham Graduate School, brought together participants from 40 institutions, highlighted exemplary models of diversity initiatives from leading American institutions and provided a forum to share best practices, strategies and innovations regarding diversity in graduate education.
“Although much of the public conversation about diversity and affirmative action focuses on the experience of undergraduate students, it is essential for leaders in higher education to understand and address the different and equally important roles that diversity plays in graduate and professional education,” said Janet A. Weiss, Rackham dean and vice provost for academic affairs.
Gregory Vincent, vice provost for diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas — Austin, delivered the keynote address. Additional featured remarks were shared by Lester Monts, U-M senior vice provost for academic affairs, and Johnnella Butler, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Spelman College.
A large number of U-M faculty and department chairs also were on hand to discuss efforts to reframe the discourse for inclusion, development and success, and the impact of diversity challenges on graduate education.
“This event provided a forum for graduate school administrators, staff and faculty committed to diversity to come together to discuss both the challenges and opportunities facing graduate education,” said Mark Kamimura-Jiménez, director of graduate student success at Rackham.
“The University of Michigan has been a leader in diversity efforts in higher education for some time and we believe the current context, which varies by region and institution, is one that requires a renewal of focused dialogue, constructive debate, and forward-looking policy efforts.”
The summit concluded with a focused work session on climate, inclusion, class, community and mentoring at the graduate level.
“A conversation on models and strategies to promote diversity in graduate education is taking on increasing national importance,” said session leader John Burkhardt, director of U-M’s National Center for Institutional Diversity.
“The intersection of administrative, legal, political, and social developments has created patterns and an environment stretching from high school through the university that now influences how we can increase or maintain diversity in graduate programs. Our success will have important implications for society in many areas,”
The Summit on Diversity in Graduate Education was organized by Rackham’s Office of Graduate Student Success and the National Center for Institutional Diversity, with support from the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. An advisory board of faculty, staff, and graduate students also contributed in the planning phase of the event.