1. Dr. Robert Sellers stepping down Dec. 31 as vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer

    April 13, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    As we near the end of the first five-year cycle of the university’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion, it is an especially important time for us to celebrate all we have accomplished, evaluate what has worked well, and anticipate the progress yet to come.

    While it truly takes each one of us to raise up the work of diversity, equity and inclusion at a place as big and dispersed as the University of Michigan, Dr. Robert Sellers has been outstanding in leading this critical work across our campus on a day-to-day basis for the past seven years, alongside his tremendous team.

    Earlier today, Dr. Sellers announced to his colleagues that he will be stepping down at the end of December from his role as vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

    We are grateful that he will remain in his role as we soon begin to seek his successor from within our faculty ranks and that he will continue to serve our community from his faculty position in the Department of Psychology, where he serves as the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology. Additional details also are being shared through a story in the University Record.

    As DEI 1.0 draws to a close after an initial five years and we move seamlessly toward DEI 2.0, Dr. Sellers believes this is the right time to allow new leadership to bring new ideas and new energy to the work that is absolutely essential to our success as an institution of higher education. Yet, we would not be in a position to move forward on our goals without his leadership and the work he has done in this role over the last seven years.

    We will not let up on the DEI accelerator during this transition period as we reflect on what we accomplished and what needs re-evaluation. We expect that the next generation of leadership in this area will be eager to leverage all we have put in place and all we have learned to speed up our forward motion into DEI 2.0.

    As we know you have heard us say many times: We cannot be excellent without being diverse in the broadest sense of the word. And we must also ensure that our community allows all individuals an equal opportunity to thrive.

    We believe that as strongly today as we did when we initiated our university’s first DEI strategic plan in 2016.

    We commend Dr. Sellers and his team in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the DEI leads all across the Ann Arbor campus and the thousands of others who have played a role in the creation of programs and polices during these past years. As Dr. Sellers frequently says, we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. His work has given us so many new sets of shoulders, pushing together, to help us achieve our goals.

    With Dr. Sellers’ imagination and leadership, we have accomplished much under DEI 1.0. Here are some highlights:

    • Designed and implemented an innovative and comprehensive DEI five-year strategic plan (DEI 1.0).
    • Infused DEI into the many core processes of the university’s standard operating procedures, including annual performance reviews, hiring practices and budgeting processes.
    • Helped to support and hire more than 90 new tenure-track faculty members and to retain more than 20 existing faculty members with a demonstrated commitment to research and teaching related to DEI.
    • Created the University Diversity and Social Transformation Professorships to recognize these important contributions by our community of scholars.
    • Initiated the Wolverine Pathways program to bring promising students to U-M. This has resulted in 126 students from the program enrolling on the Ann Arbor campus over the past three years.
    • Designed and implemented the university’s first DEI climate survey for students, faculty and staff.
    • Created a new Trotter Multicultural Center in the heart of campus.
    • Added a First Generation Gateway to support the students who are the first in their families to attend college.

    We will have more time to celebrate – both our collective accomplishments as well as Dr. Sellers’ leadership ­– when we gather again in the fall during the annual diversity summit. For now, we offer our collective thanks to Dr. Robert Sellers, who first came to our campus as a graduate student and soon returned as a member of the faculty.

    Thank you, Rob, for all you have done and continue to do to make the University of Michigan the kind of community we all want it to be.

    Mark S. Schlissel

    Susan M. Collins
    Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs