A Commitment to Diversity
"A diversity of people, of ideas, and of cultures is a core value of this institution. We want a spectrum of students, staff and faculty, and we will always work to attain it, because it is a critical element of our commitment to academic excellence."
President Mary Sue Coleman, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion; November 6, 2008
Core Component 1b: In its mission documents, the organization recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves.
Diversity and the Learning Environment
What does the concept of diversity mean to the University of Michigan? To answer, we draw from the introduction to the University’s Diversity Blueprints report (March 2007), which presents recommendations shaped by the collective effort of hundreds of Michigan students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and community members in response to a charge from President Mary Sue Coleman to explore ways to maintain the University of Michigan’s status as one of the nation’s premier educational institutions while adhering to changes resulting from the passage of Michigan’s Proposal 2 in November 2006. The state’s adoption of this proposal bans public institutions in Michigan from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
Students learn better in a diverse class. They are more analytical, and more engaged. The teaching environment is more enlightening. The discussion is livelier and more often mirrors real-world issues. These students are more open to perspectives that differ from their own, and they are better prepared to become active players in our society—exactly what we need in today’s graduates.
Learning is enhanced when people from varying backgrounds and experiences can interact with each other in ways that are meaningful, dynamic, and mutually rewarding and enriching. The University’s educational mission requires an environment where students, faculty, and staff develop intercultural skills through interacting with many different types of people, both on and off campus. These opportunities start with recruitment and are provided through orientations, discussions, and other activities. Our successes are demonstrated, for example, by the numbers of doctorates awarded to American-Indians, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics, where we rank in the top seven for all categories (2003-07 2). The University strives to move beyond the facts of diversity to the actions of diversity, and, through this, to embrace diversity as a key component of excellence.
[2 Diversity in Academe. Chronicle of Higher Education. October 11, 2009.]
Criterion 1 focuses primarily on the University’s mission. Diversity is at the heart of its mission. Our actions speak for themselves. The discussion below provides a sample of activities covering history, policy, planning, education and training, cultural enrichment, the curriculum, support services, awards, advocacy and networking, assessment and institutional research, outreach, scholarly research, and noteworthy achievements. The University’s Bentley Historical Library has a web site, Diversity at the University of Michigan, which further elaborates.
The University of Michigan’s commitment to diversity goes back in history to at least 1853, with the admission of Samuel Codes Watson, a medical student and the first known African American to be admitted to the University. That commitment was reinforced recently through the University’s national role in its defense of two admissions lawsuits. Gratz v. Bollinger challenged the particular use of race in its admission process for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Grutter v. Bollinger brought a more fundamental challenge to the University’s general use of race in its admissions to the Law School. The University was ordered in Gratz v. Bollinger to modify its undergraduate admissions process, but the use of race was not prohibited in admissions. More importantly, the June 2003 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger et al. was that diversity is a compelling interest in higher education, and that race is one of a number of factors that can be taken into account to achieve the educational benefits of a diverse student body. The individualized, whole-file review used in the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions process was held to be narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefits of diversity, and the Law School’s goal of attaining a critical mass of underrepresented minority students did not transform its program into a quota system. This was an important victory for diversity in higher education admissions.
Then, in 2006, the passage of Proposal 2 amended the Michigan constitution to ban discrimination against or preferential treatment for groups or individuals based on race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin. The University complies with the law, but diversity remains a permissible and compelling interest of the University and we continue to build a broadly diverse community. Faculty, staff, and students come to the University with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, and they contribute to the excellence and dynamics of the University’s learning environment.
Activities in Support of Diversity
In keeping with the University’s academic decentralization, schools and colleges work independently and collaboratively to support and advance diversity among the University’s faculty, staff, and students, and to provide service to the communities beyond campus. The University’s Diversity Matters website provides links to this array of services and programs.
Section 14.06 of the Regents’ Bylaws covers nondiscrimination and affirmative action (revised April 2009), and forms the cornerstone of University policy with regard to diversity:
The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status. The university also is committed to compliance with all applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action.
University units include this statement in all general materials as well as materials used to recruit applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or employees, as required by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Recruitment of Students, Faculty, and Staff
At Michigan, we are dedicated to building a student body that is an exciting and interesting mix of young men and women who each contribute unique ideas and perspectives to our University. By bringing together students of different backgrounds and different experiences, we create an intellectual environment that is unmatched in higher education, and we produce alumni who are better prepared to make a difference in all aspects of our society.
—President Mary Sue Coleman, accepting the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
All units of the University strive to recruit a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff. Examples include:
- Student recruitment. The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives coordinates opportunities for middle school and high school students to begin preparation for higher education through pre-college programs that foster desire and perseverance to attend college. In another example, the Rackham Graduate School’s Office of Student Success helps academic programs increase the pool of outstanding graduate students interested in their programs.
- Faculty recruitment. The ADVANCE Program promotes institutional transformation with respect to women faculty in science and engineering fields, and is gradually expanding to promote other kinds of diversity among faculty and students. It has produced a Handbook for Faculty Searches and Hiring that includes resources for developing a diverse pool of candidates. The Provost’s Faculty Initiatives Program (PFIP) dedicates funds to help academic units hire and retain faculty members who contribute to the intellectual diversity of the institution.
- Staff recruitment. University Human Resources operates the Department of Recruiting and Employment Services to help with recruitment (see website) and employs a full-time diversity recruiter to assist in developing diverse pools of qualified candidates.
The University’s curriculum offers a rich, interspersed array of courses on diversity subjects. Most of our undergraduate students participate in the Race & Ethnicity (R&E) requirement in LSA, where they take at least one 3-credit course from a list of offerings published each term in the LSA Online Course Guide. R&E-designated courses address issues of racial or ethnic intolerance, and cover one or more topics such as the meaning of race, ethnicity, and racism; racial and ethnic intolerance and the resulting inequality that occurs in the United States or elsewhere; and comparisons of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, social class, or gender.
Education and Training
The University provides multiple education and training programs for students, faculty, and staff, including:
- The Division of Student Affairs and the Office of New Student Programs highlight New Student Orientation with the Expect Respect Campaign, which includes a video presentation from the president, activities wherein students explore self-identity with other new students, and an Educational Theatre experience.
- The Program on Intergroup Relations uses the resources of LSA and the Division of Student Affairs to provide courses, workshops, and other activities that promote understanding of intergroup relations inside and outside of the classroom.
- The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching Theatre Program develops and performs sketches for faculty and graduate students to stimulate discussions of multicultural teaching and learning and institutional climate. Sketches portray challenges faced by students of color, women faculty members and students in science and engineering, and students with disabilities. The Players perform at University-wide orientations and seminars, discipline-specific workshops, and at campuses and conferences around the country.
- Multicultural Teaching Services for faculty and Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), run by CRLT and other professional staff, facilitates University-wide workshops, provides individual consultations, and offers a variety of customized programs (e.g., workshops and retreats) to help faculty members and GSIs serve the learning needs of University’s diverse student body. Resources (e.g., books and articles, in-house publications, and videotapes) are also maintained to support multicultural teaching and learning.
- The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) facilitates education and training on racial and ethnic issues, sexual orientation, and gender-identity sensitivity, and works to remove barriers to access for employees and to improve hiring procedures.
The University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor provide diverse cultural offerings, including:
- Arts at Michigan was created in 2000 to work with students in the arts with the aim of helping people shape their individual and collective identities and understand what it means to be a citizen of a diverse multi-cultural society.
- Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium. Every winter since 1987 members of the University community develop programs and initiatives to remember and continue King’s legacy. Events often focus on historical authenticity and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and highlight historical and contemporary issues of race, class, social justice, diversity, and societal change.
The University offers central services to assist students and to support faculty and staff members in matters of diversity.
- The Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) in LSA supports, academically enriches, and retains students who show outstanding potential. It offers support services such as the Summer Bridge Program, academic year course instruction, academic advising and peer advising, tutoring, and freshmen interest groups.
- The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives assists students with academic, financial, and other support from the time they enter the University of Michigan until graduation.
- The Division of Student Affairs runs the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Trotter Multicultural Center to promote student development and engage the campus community on issues of diversity and social justice through the lens of race and ethnicity.
- Services for Students with Disabilities provides services to students with visual impairments, learning disabilities, mobility impairments, hearing impairments, chronic health problems, and psychological disabilities, so they can enjoy a complete range of academic and non-academic opportunities.
- The UM Veterans Connection program of the Office of New Student Programs helps students make the transition from active military duty to the University and vice versa. The program supports veterans, guardsmen, reservists, and others receiving U.S. military benefits, as they broaden the diversity of our staff, faculty, and students.
Support services for faculty include the initiatives below:
- The Women of Color in the Academy Project (WOCAP) has worked since 1994 to highlight the contributions of women of color to the University community and to society at large. It supports a campus-wide network committed to progressive institutional change, with programs that support the success and wellbeing of women of color scholars both locally and nationally.
- The ADVANCE Program was created by the University and the National Science Foundation as a five-year project to improve institutional support for women faculty members in science and engineering fields. The University has continued funding through at least June 2011, and the program is expanding to promote diversity among faculty members and students in all fields. The program’s Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) Committee provides information, advice, and workshops to maximize identification, recruitment, support, and help for diverse, well-qualified faculty candidates.
Examples of support services for specific constituencies at the University are:
- Portal En Español was launched in 2004 to reach prospective students and their parents with Spanish language information on academic study and admissions. A news service offering translations of the latest research findings was added in 2006, and in 2007 the University health system launched a site with more than 1,000 pages of health and wellness information and links to its Podcast site.
- The Center for the Education of Women (CEW) advocates for women in higher education and in the workplace, adds to the knowledge about women’s lives through ongoing research, and provides services in women’s education, employment, careers, leadership growth and development, and wellbeing.
- The Spectrum Center provides education, information, and advocacy to create and maintain an open, safe, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and similarly-identified members of the University community.
Advocacy and Networking
The University creates and supports opportunities for diverse members of the community to meet and support each other, and to advocate on behalf of their constituencies. Examples are:
- The University of Michigan Diversity Council was established by President Coleman in 2003 to assess, encourage, and celebrate diversity by offering expertise and guidance to foster a diverse, multicultural, and inclusive University community. The Council has hosted several University-wide Diversity Summits, and also co-sponsors the Diversity Matters at Michigan website.
- The President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues (PACWI) was established by President James Duderstadt in 1989 to help University leaders address issues of access, equity, and success for women. PACWI helps women to fully and actively participate in all aspects of life and leadership at the University, and promotes policies, practices, and procedures to enhance gender and racial equity.
- The Council for Disability Concerns was created by President Harold Shapiro in1983 to advise University programs and policies regarding people with disabilities.
- The Women of Color Task Force was established more than 25 years ago to provide professional development opportunities for employees to exchange information about the status of women of color at the University, and to address relevant concerns.
- La Asociación de Profesores y Funcionarios Latinos de la Universidad de Michigan esta dedicada a crear un ambiente académico y social apropiado para cumplir con las aspiraciones y necesidades en el desempeño de sus trabajos sirviendo a la comunidad universitaria. La Asociación se fundó en el ano 2003 y está dirigida por representantes de varias escuelas, facultades y unidades administrativas, que mantienen una red informativa y de coordinación con la administración central de la universidad y grupos estudiantiles. (translation)
- The Association of Black Professionals, Administrators, Faculty, and Staff [on hiatus] is dedicated to creating a work environment that meets the needs and aspirations of Black employees.
Outreach activities are central to the University and its schools and colleges (see the section on Engagement). The Community Assistance Directory (CAD) of the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations provides information about the University’s many outreach projects and services. We cite just a few examples:
- The Health Occupations Partners in Education program (HOPE) supports junior high and high school students in the Ypsilanti Public Schools who are interested in health professions careers in an effort to increase the numbers of underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students who pursue such careers. This program closed in 2009.
- Detroit Community Partnership Center. The University started and manages this in collaboration with Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and a number of Detroit community-based organizations. Student-faculty member teams work on projects identified by community partners, including a land bank and a retail development in Detroit, and support of urban agriculture.
- Cultural Heritage Initiative for Community Outreach (CHICO) makes cultural materials accessible to a broad array of audiences through pilot projects with area partners. Online multimedia resources with a strong multicultural focus are combined with personalized services and programs to enrich museum visits, classroom instruction, and independent research. Graduate students at the University of Michigan’s School of Information work with collaborators, including University of Michigan departments, K-12 schools, and local, regional, and national museums and public libraries.
The University has several central offices dedicated to outreach, including:
- The National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) promotes national exemplars of diversity scholarship, multilevel engagement, and innovation. It is a catalyst, venture fund, incubator, clearinghouse, publisher, and think tank involving faculty-centered mentoring, faculty fellows, postdoctoral scholars programs, and a national consortium for diversity research and policy.
- The Center for Educational Outreach (CEO), created in 2007, improves educational opportunities for students in underserved middle schools and high schools in the state of Michigan, and helps the University recruit a diverse group of students.
- The University of Michigan Detroit Center provides a base to support dozens of ongoing instruction and research programs, and to facilitate partnerships between the University, civic leaders, and community organizations that improve the quality of the city of Detroit and the life of its residents. Eighteen University units use the center’s space for classes, meetings, exhibitions, lectures, and collaborative work.
Scholarly Work and Awards
Academic programs across the University engage diversity and multiculturalism in many ways. Major programs include the Center for Afro-American and African Studies, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and the Women’s Studies department. As another example, the Diversity Center (now the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies) of the Ford School of Public Policy promotes interdisciplinary research, educational opportunities and dialogue, and creates an intellectual focal point for research on the policy implications of diverse societies locally, nationally, and internationally. Faculty members of color throughout the University contribute to the University’s diversity, regardless of the focus of their scholarship or creative activities. Through honors and awards, the University acknowledges faculty and staff members who contribute to diversity, and many individual units recognize faculty, students, and staff who support diversity activities. The Harold R. Johnson Diversity Award and the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award recognize faculty and staff members who contribute to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse campus community. These are but two of many awards given to honor members of the campus community who help make the University climate positive and respectful for everyone.