February 2024 video message

Hello colleagues and friends across the U-M community!

These wintry days are a time to reflect on where we’ve been, who we are, and what we aspire to be. That’s what makes the Inclusive History Project so important to me.

The IHP is charged with telling a more complex and more inclusive history of our university, one that necessarily includes all of our campuses, spans more than 200 years, and crucially – addresses our successes and our failures when it comes to matters of diversity, inclusion and equity. The IHP is undertaking an honest and critical reexamination of our shared past so we can identify the actions we can take to change our present and reshape our future.

We formed the IHP in 2022, and this year, it will launch its research arm, as well as engage in a range of efforts across our three campuses.

Ann Arbor’s foundational project will consider how the origins of U-M and our subsequent history is tied to the history of Native American land dispossession, with a focus on the original land transfer from the Anishinaabe people via the 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs for the establishment of a college in Detroit.

At UM-Dearborn, initiatives in oral history, survey- and focus-group-based research, and archival research are beginning, with the goal of facilitating a more inclusive account of the origins of the campus as well as the experiences of its diverse stakeholders over the years.

Flint’s first project focuses on its many campus centers, including the Center for Gender and Sexuality and the Intercultural Center, as well as their missions, their development over time, and their grapplings with inclusion and belonging.

This month, the IHP is also launching a new website, awarding teaching grants, and accepting grant proposals to fund research, engagement, and creative practice across our three campuses.

I’m so grateful for our two distinguished scholars leading the IHP, co-chairs Dr. Elizabeth Cole and Dr. Earl Lewis, who are this month’s Portraits of a Wolverine.

Dr. Liz Cole is University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Afroamerican and African Studies and Director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, where the IHP is housed. Dr. Cole is a Rackham alum, and she has served in many leadership roles since joining the U-M faculty in 2000. She is proudest of her work to establish the Collegiate Fellows Program, which recruits outstanding faculty to LSA whose scholarship, teaching, and leadership contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education.

Dr. Earl Lewis is the Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Public Policy. Dr. Lewis has spent over twenty years at U-M, but I first met him when he served as the provost of Emory University. Today, Dr. Lewis serves as our inaugural director of the Center for Social Solutions where he has led efforts to develop research-informed, community-based reparations plans for colleges and universities, work which was highlighted in a recent PBS documentary called The Cost of Inheritance: An America ReFramed Special. A noted social historian, Dr. Lewis was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2023 – the first Wolverine to receive that honor.

The IHP’s commitment to facing our past in order to build a better future is driven by our mission and shared values as a university:  To asking hard questions and pursuing their complex and sometimes contested answers, to engaging with one another with respect and humility, and to creating and sharing knowledge with integrity.

Thanks again for joining me, and I’ll see you in the spring.