New initiatives push diversity efforts forward


At the same time the university community is working through a new bottom-up approach to diversity strategic planning, new programs are being launched that focus on recruiting more minority students and providing professional development opportunities for faculty to learn new ways of creating inclusive classrooms.

Here is a summary of those efforts.

Minority enrollment gains

A key component of the university’s diversity strategic planning process is enrolling a diverse student body. The university made some gains in that regard with this year’s freshman class. Fall undergraduate enrollment included a freshman class of 6,071 students that is both academically excellent and more diverse than any class since 2005.

Among this year’s freshman class, underrepresented minority students comprise 12.8 percent of all students, the largest percentage since 2005 when it was 13.8 percent. In the fall of 2014, underrepresented minority students made up 10 percent of the freshman class. Underrepresented minorities include African American, Hispanic, Native American, Hawaiian and those students indicating two or more underrepresented minority groups.

“The campus — admissions, financial aid, recruitment teams and our partners across the university — worked together in response to the charge to achieve our target class size and find ways, consistent with state law, to bring further diversity to our student body with this class,” says Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management.

The number of underrepresented minority students in the freshman class was up by 123 (19.7 percent) over last year’s 623 to a total of 746, making up 12.8 percent of the freshman class.

Wolverine Pathways launching

Wolverine Pathways, the university’s free supplemental educational program for seventh and 10th-graders, will launch this winter for students living in the Ypsilanti and Southfield school districts.

The program, developed and led by Associate Professor of Education Rob Jagers, will launch Feb. 27 with a kickoff event. The weekly programs on Saturday mornings will run March 5-April 30.

Response has been strong overall, with more than 325 students applying for the initial overall class of 240 Wolverine Pathways scholars in the two regions. Jagers says Ypsilanti Superintendent Benjamin P. Edmondson and Southfield Superintendent Lynda Wood have been strong supporters of the program.

Wolverine Pathways is one of the university’s new approaches to diversify the pool of students applying for admission at U-M. The hands-on, project-based curriculum is designed to give students a better feel for what learning is like on the U-M campus.

One focus of the initial winter session for all Wolverine Pathways scholars will be online communities and computer coding, centered around an educational component developed by the Ann Arbor company GameStart. Climate change will be an additional area of focus for high school students, and water resources will be the added focus area for middle school students. All sessions will include lessons incorporating math, science and English language arts.

Faculty learning, too

The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has worked with the Office of Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion and Academic Affairs to augment its offerings of professional development around inclusive teaching.

The work includes a three-part model for professional development that provides schools and colleges with a resource for their strategic planning process, says Matt Kaplan, CRLT executive director.

The plan suggests a range of activities that would orient new faculty to teaching at U-M, expand their knowledge and skills about inclusive teaching strategies, and prompt reflection upon their own teaching practice. Liaisons from each school and college and faculty focus groups are examining the model, as well as what faculty would like to see in implementation.

New grants under the Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching initiative are being provided for faculty who wish to generate dialogue with colleagues about inclusive teaching practices and campus climate concerns.

CRLT’s ongoing offerings for faculty include both campuswide and departmental workshops on inclusive teaching topics. Professional consultants are available to work one-on-one with individual faculty members.

The center’s teaching orientation for graduate student instructors includes a session with the CRLT Players theater troupe, followed by smaller workshops on inclusive teaching. GSIs also can learn about and practice strategies for inclusive teaching in U-M’s multicultural classrooms through a seminar on diversity and inclusive teaching, co-sponsored by the Program on Intergroup Relations and the Rackham Graduate School. 

New center approved

Design work is underway for the university’s new $10 million Central Campus multicultural center. The project was approved Dec. 17, 2015, by the Board of Regents.

The center will be built along South State Street adjacent to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and will replace the current William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center, which sits off campus at 1443 Washtenaw Ave.

The new center is a result of extensive outreach and input from students and other members of the university community. That input, along with institutional knowledge of the existing multicultural center student uses, resulted in a proposal for a 20,000-square-foot facility that will both accommodate spaces from the current center and add a multipurpose room able to accommodate 300 people for banquets or conferences and an active-learning, classroom-style configuration for 100 students.

HAIL scholars sought

While results are not yet in, a pilot program launched last fall aims to test a new approach to connecting with high-achieving, low-income students across the state — with the goal of enrolling more of them on the Ann Arbor campus.

The approach involves offering a unique package of admissions information, including a step-by-step guide for applying to U-M and vouchers providing free access to key portions of the application process. For those students who apply and are admitted to U-M, the payoff is huge: A HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) scholarship that provides four years of free tuition and required fees — a $60,000 value.

The new materials were offered to a cohort of high-achieving, low-income Michigan high school seniors in fall 2015 and the same offer will be made in 2016. Students will be selected for the HAIL initiative based on their financial need and early indications of their likelihood to be competitive in the admissions process. The students must apply and be admitted to receive the scholarship.

The university developed the pilot program in collaboration with Susan Dynarski, professor of education, public policy and economics, who studies inequality in education and the optimal design for college financial aid. She will report on results of the program.

Website revamped

Last fall the university launched an updated website for diversity, equity and inclusion that incorporates a new platform for community engagement.

The redesigned website — — supports diversity-related interests and efforts and offers a summary of the Nov. 4-13, 2015, Diversity Summit on the Ann Arbor campus. A detailed outline and timeline for the strategic planning process also is housed on the website.

The Be Heard community-engagement platform that is incorporated into the website is open to everyone with a email address. This new tool is designed for engaging any university affiliate in the campuswide strategic planning dialogue.


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