A Message from President Mark Schlissel:
I want to reach out regarding questions that have arisen recently about the new William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center and be clear on an important point: While its location will be different, the name, legacy and mission of the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center will remain unchanged.
The Trotter Multicultural Center is and always will be indispensable to the University of Michigan. We are moving the Center to a new building at the heart of our campus, as requested by our university community, not only to fully maximize the Center’s importance as a resource for us, but also as a reflection of our values and vision for the future.
University leaders have worked to address questions from the community, and students representing the Black Student Union met with Vice President Royster Harper and me on Friday, April 29.
The William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center’s new home on Central Campus will be called Bernstein-Bendit Hall. The naming convention is similar to our Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, housed in Joan and Sanford Weill Hall. It’s still the Ford School, named after one of our most cherished alumni, but the building is named after two donors who helped us realize the vision for the new facility. Both the Trotter Multicultural Center and Bernstein-Bendit names will be featured on exterior signage.
Universities frequently work with donors to enhance or build physical facilities, and thus advance the mission of the school or center within. Gifts of this type must be approved by our Board of Regents, and details are released only after a vote is taken. In both the Ford and Trotter cases, the donors shared U-M’s vision for what their gifts could do for our campus.
The new Trotter Multicultural Center’s mission and importance will be heightened and amplified by its new location. The name “Trotter” stands for many of the highest values to which we aspire at U-M – we support diversity in all of its forms and an inclusive campus environment that allows all members of our community to thrive.
We could not fully pursue our goals for greater diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan without the Trotter Multicultural Center and everything it does to help us work towards a just and equitable society. The enhanced programs, opportunities for student engagement and reflection spaces will contribute to multicultural dialogue and understanding on our campus.
As much as the Trotter Multicultural Center is essential to our future, I also deeply revere its meaningful contributions to our history. U-M students drove the efforts that led to the original Trotter House’s establishment in 1972, its renovations in 2014, and its upcoming move to the center of our campus. The wonderful accomplishments of civil rights leader William Monroe Trotter continue to inspire all of us.
I believe that at the University of Michigan, our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The advocacy to ensure the Trotter Multicultural Center’s important role in these aspirations moving forward is a wonderful example of this commitment. I am proud to engage in this work together with our community and appreciate everyone who is working to make the University of Michigan a better place for all.
Mark S. Schlissel