On Oct. 6, 2016, the University of Michigan embarked on a historic journey, launching its first-ever universitywide strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion.

The plan represents the shared overarching themes and strategies present across 49 individual plans created by the university’s 19 schools and colleges, Student Life, Athletics, the U-M Health System and other administrative units.

See the universitywide strategic plan here:

The university has committed $85 million in new resources over the next five years to implement the initiatives in the plans that fall into three main strategies:

  • Creating an inclusive and equitable campus.
  • Recruiting, retaining and developing a diverse university community.
  • Supporting innovation and inclusive scholarship and teaching.

More than 2,100 people participated in the morning session of the launch event, which included a rollout of the plan by Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and U-M’s first chief diversity officer. Joining Sellers in announcing the plan were President Mark Schlissel and Provost Martha Pollack.

Other sessions throughout the day included a panel conversation with unit planning and implementation leads, a poster session highlighting several unit-specific plans, a student engagement session and a keynote address by diversity, inclusion and cultural competence speaker Steve Robbins, whose message centered on how diversity, equity and inclusion impacts campuses and communities.

“Our goal was, in the morning, to provide an opportunity to say to the world ‘This is the plan.’ For the past year-and-a-half, we have been working very hard to develop this…and we wanted to have some event that kicked off and that officially marked the beginning of this process,” says Sellers.

“And then the afternoon event with the students, the Student Life event, we wanted to make sure there was a clear understanding of what it actually meant for the students. And then the last event in the evening was really a celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion – really talking about what we could be and how we could be.”

Throughout the day Schlissel expressed to students, faculty and staff how vital they would be in ensuring the success of the diversity, equity and inclusion implementation.

The university is committed to transparency and accountability at all levels under the plans with a responsible office or person identified for each action and metrics on demographic and climate trends that will be tracked over time and publicly reported.

“The future of our great university will be determined by how well we embrace the values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” he says.

And his message was reiterated in messages by other campus leaders. Trey Boynton, director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, told attendants of the Student Life session that the launch would not have happened without the vital feedback of students and their visions for a better U-M community. She added that it will take the continued efforts of everyone in the community for the diversity, equity and inclusion plans to be successful.

“This is a manifestation of something really important. It’s about you, it’s about me, it’s about everyone,” she says.

“And so it is never more important to have something like this out in the world, on our campus, saying to both ourselves and each other that we are important and that every single person has a voice on this campus.”

By Jeremy Allen
Public Affairs

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