I announced earlier this year that I was making diversity, equity and an inclusive campus environment a major focus of my presidency. Our work will include a new strategic plan for how to enhance diversity and promote greater equity and a more inclusive campus environment for the university as a whole, as well as individualized plans for our campus units and our 19 schools and colleges.
The process has developed strong momentum. Today, I brought together more than 250 members of our community to discuss our progress and how our work is taking shape more formally. This is a massive undertaking for us at U-M. Having the right structure in place was crucial to keep us moving forward in a collaborative manner.
We were pleased to be joined by the approximately 60 individuals who are serving as planning leads, representing each of our schools, colleges and campus units. They will spearhead the process within their units and coordinate with the overall university effort.
I also rolled out the charge I developed to guide our work ahead, that seeks to foster and maximize the collaborative approach we are taking. This information, along with materials describing other components of our effort, is available online.
The charge states that “our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” It was designed to encourage innovation, and set broad parameters.
I want each unit’s plan to be aspirational, concrete, include ways to measure progress,
and be consistent with activities that occur throughout our campus. As I said yesterday, we will move in the same direction, but how or even where we arrive, will be up to the members of our community engaged in the work.
I want the best ideas to rise to the top.
I want to thank the regents, executive officers, deans, and many, many others from all three of our campuses who have engaged very deeply in this process. This includes faculty, staff and students who have provided considerable input.
We cannot be excellent at the University of Michigan without being diverse in the full sense of that word, and leveraging the experiences and perspectives of the broadest possible diversity of students, faculty, and staff. We also must ensure that our community allows all individuals to thrive.
When we engage across difference as an academic community, we expand our opportunities to learn from one another – inside and outside of our classrooms. Research demonstrates that we also achieve better learning outcomes and produce more creative and important new knowledge and levels of understanding.
I look forward to working with the U-M community to achieve news levels of success.