University of Michigan leaders Monday announced notable progress in the university’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse community, build an inclusive campus environment, and ensure students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds can thrive at U-M.
The year-two progress report for U-M’s five-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was outlined by Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers during a community assembly that began the university’s 2018 DEI Summit.
Sellers said the report reflects the university’s progress to date and opportunities for continued growth in realizing specific goals outlined in the strategic plan.
“As we approach the midpoint of our initial five-year strategic planning effort, I am incredibly proud of the advancements we’ve made, and truly believe the foundational infrastructure for a long-term institutional transformation is underway,” he said.
Second-year successes outlined in the Strategic Plan include:
• Construction of the Trotter Multicultural Center, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019. Programming in the works includes an interfaith program, a Trotter Distinguished Leaders speaking series and a disability culture initiative led by Student Life’s Services for Students with Disabilities.
• The first cohort of students completed the Wolverine Pathways program and are now studying on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses.
• The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching increased the number of DEI-focused sessions, including an Inclusive Teaching @ Michigan series. The series now includes undergraduate students serving as consultants to provide feedback to faculty and graduate student instructors on course materials and teaching practices.
• The university created a staff ombudsperson position to assist with information and referrals, serve as a campuswide resource for policy and make recommendations for change.
• The National Center for Institutional Diversity is helping scholars address important current issues related to diversity and higher education through grants and support to assist with writing for the public.
• U-M executive officers and deans began a yearlong professional development program on DEI leadership, with an emphasis on improving the campus culture and climate.
The report highlights that in the last year U-M continued to embed DEI in the structures and processes of the university. With 51 unique unit plans created to complement the university’s campuswide DEI strategic plan, 2,117 DEI-related action items were initiated or completed across the entire campus.
For example, Michigan Medicine partnered with U-M Human Resources to develop faculty and staff recruitment toolkits aimed at creating more diverse candidate pools when hiring; similar best practices were implemented within units across the university; 13 schools and colleges made DEI part of their annual faculty review process; and an overwhelming number of units also incorporated DEI factors in annual staff assessments.
In his presentation, Sellers outlined three specific accomplishments that directly align with the university’s three overarching DEI strategies: create an inclusive and equitable campus climate; recruit, retain and develop a diverse community; and support innovative and inclusive scholarship and training.
Sellers shared some initial success from the Wolverine Pathways program. The pipeline program that currently offers afterschool, weekend and summer enrichment programming and mentorship to 733 high school students from Detroit, Ypsilanti and Southfield recently graduated their first cohort of students. Of the 88 graduating scholars, 80 are now studying at a four-year college or university, 45 are enrolled at U-M in Ann Arbor and 15 are enrolled at UM-Dearborn.
Sellers also said more than 17,000 staff members across every administrative and academic unit on campus have received some form of diversity training thanks to the efforts led by Human Resources’ Organizational Learning. That office provides high-quality professional development and learning opportunities — including more than 100 courses — that are available to faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the Ann Arbor community.
“Our efforts will help us create an institution that is more innovative, dynamic and inclusive for everyone,” said Sonya Jacobs, U-M’s chief organizational learning officer. “My hope is that every participant not only builds their skills but that they also become much more aware of who we are, what we all bring and really contribute to the mission of the university.”
To help U-M faculty, graduate student instructors and lecturers across multiple disciplines increase their understanding of inclusive teaching, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching expanded its offerings to include 23 DEI-focused workshops.
The workshops are designed to give faculty a better understanding of students in classroom settings, help them deliberately cultivate learning environments where students with different backgrounds and perspective can learn and engage with one another, and help them better understand and alleviate patters of inequity that often become barriers to learning.
Sellers also said that the work undertaken by the university has not gone unrecognized by those outside of the campus community. He announced INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest diversity magazine and website in higher education, recently awarded U-M with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED Award.
While pointing to the university’s successes regarding DEI, Sellers also acknowledged there are also some areas and challenges the campus community must continue to focus on.
University leaders indicated the progress report demonstrates that the campus community is moving ahead on many fronts and is successfully implementing a number of initiatives aimed at building a truly diverse, equitable and welcoming campus.
“We cannot be excellent without being diverse in the broadest sense of the word,” said President Mark Schlissel. “We must ensure that our community provides all individuals with an equal opportunity to contribute, to be heard and to succeed. These values are essential to all of our aspirations as a university.”