(As prepared for delivery)
I’m sorry I cannot be with you in person, but I’m so pleased I can join remotely and share a few thoughts.
First, my thanks to Tabbye Chavous for her leadership. I’m thrilled she is our new chief diversity officer and the vice provost for equity and inclusion. It is a critical role at Michigan, and she brings tremendous experience and insight to the position.
When the Board of Regents asked me to return as president last January, the first campus event I participated in was the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.
Tomorrow will be my last day as president, a job I have been honored to serve. And today’s DEI Summit is my final campus event.
These feel like perfect bookends to me. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is absolutely essential to this university’s excellence. It’s one of the values I have most appreciated in returning to lead the university. It cannot be said enough: The more diverse we are, the stronger our academic excellence.
Our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion reflects commitments and goals shared centrally and across campus, through our schools, colleges, departments, and units. This includes our learning, programming, campus climate, recruitment, admissions, hiring, and retention. I believe this multi-faceted approach is the best way to create broad-based and profound cultural change across the entire university.
While we have made meaningful progress, more work is still needed to realize the goals articulated in our DEI strategic planning.
The public we serve expects the University of Michigan to meet society’s needs. To do so, we must draw upon the perspectives of faculty, students, and staff from around our state, nation, and world.
Our differences —whether they be the philosophical questions that engage us, gender, economic background, faith, race, or personal histories — bring energy to our community. They create the intellectual vitality that makes Michigan internationally renowned.
We must always be vigilant about recruiting and retaining the best students and staff, and the finest faculty, so that they may further enrich this university. And we must pledge to create and sustain an environment that welcomes and supports everyone.
I know this work is of the highest priority for Dr. Santa Ono, who becomes president on Friday. He is committed to listening and learning, and I know you will enjoy working with him.
I want to thank the thousands of individuals who make our community so special. I am particularly grateful to the DEI leads who are steadfast about making Michigan stronger. This is critically important. I recognize it’s also hard work. Effecting change often feels that way.
This work matters to Michigan, and you are making it happen. Thank you for remaining strong and committed. Please enjoy today’s summit.