Mark S. Schlissel
14th president of the University of Michigan and the first physician-scientist to lead the institution
“While we recognize that our aspirations to perpetual excellence as a university are indivisible from DEI–and this report describes many of our specific accomplishments–we also know that our journey is far from complete.”
Mark S. Schlissel
To the University Community,
Over the past five years, the University of Michigan community has united around the values of diversity, equity and inclusion: Our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to DEI. We cannot be excellent without being diverse in the broadest sense of that word, and we must also ensure that our community allows all individuals an equal opportunity to thrive.
Thanks to our initial Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the efforts of
thousands of individuals past and present, these values are built into our decision-making and the work we do in units all across our campus. This spans all that we do—teaching and learning, research, patient care, budgeting, hiring, student recruitment and campus events, activities and service. We’ve also achieved a goal expressed even before the development of our Strategic Plan, as our community has engaged in an ongoing and long-term dialogue on diversity for our campus to best fulfill our public mission.
Nationally, we have embraced changes that seek to address disparities that lead to
underrepresentation in science and called for bipartisan solutions that would let all qualified
students pursue their educational dreams at U-M regardless of immigration status.
While we recognize that our aspirations to perpetual excellence as a university are indivisible from DEI—and this report describes many of our specific accomplishments—we also know that our journey is far from complete.
As a venerable public university, we have a special responsibility to serve all of humanity. Diversity is essential to our scholarly endeavors, strengthening our impact and our intellectual power. U-M has always embraced taking on the biggest problems facing our society and creating lasting change. The challenges before us are complex and urgent.
The parallel pandemics of structural racism and COVID-19 have further exposed hate, divisions and inequalities in our society. Differential health impacts, violence and murder against Black and Brown people because of race, anti-Asian acts and rhetoric, Islamophobia, and antisemitism are among the many challenges that demand our attention as a top public university and a community that strives to be welcoming to all.
We’re also examining policies and procedures that unintentionally may have disparate impacts on groups and continuing to enact changes to prevent sexual and gender-based misconduct and transform our culture to reflect the core beliefs of our community.
Before we launch our next strategic plan, we are taking time to listen and assess what worked and what didn’t, where we may need further investments, and what we need our next plan to include. Next October, we’ll share findings from this evaluation period.
We will continue to advance our DEI values in the coming year, as well.
The Anti-Racism Initiatives launched by our Provost’s Office will move forward, including the faculty hiring initiative and implementation of many recommendations from the Advancing Public Safety at the University of Michigan Task Force.
Our DEI leads in campus units will also remain engaged over the next year. Their outstanding work has made our university better in all facets. I appreciate their considerable efforts and the valuable feedback they’ve provided, and their insights will be crucial to the development of DEI 2.0.
I want to also take this opportunity to thank Dr. Robert M. Sellers, U-M’s first chief diversity officer, who is stepping down from the post at the end of the year and returning to our faculty. The successes of DEI 1.0 would not have been possible without his commitment to broad collaboration, his tremendous dedication to making U-M a better place for all, and his steadfast leadership that has inspired a university community of more than 100,000 individuals. I have very much appreciated his friendship, wise counsel and tireless advocacy for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Thank you, Rob, and thank you all for your outstanding work on behalf of our great university.
Mark S. Schlissel
Robert M. Sellers
Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer, Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Professor of Education
“Although transition, change and challenges lie ahead, I remain confident in our future because of the determination and commitment of so many outstanding people across this great University.”
Robert M. Sellers
To the University Community,
As the University of Michigan concludes the final year of its initial five-year Strategic Plan for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), we must acknowledge both this monumental occasion and the unprecedented challenges that our community has faced throughout this process.
When the Strategic Plan launched in 2016, we knew the plan would need to adapt to both the known and the unknown. Over the past five years, we have endured a worldwide pandemic, witnessed an international movement that has brought systemic racism to the forefront of our national dialogue and had two highly divisive presidential campaigns.
Throughout these and so many other challenges, we have learned much about ourselves and the value of resiliency. We, as a university, have tried to provide leadership and support when the moment has called for us to rise to the occasion. However, as we move forward in our efforts, we must continue to lead, listen and learn along the way if we are to become the community that we strive to become.
In support of this belief, the university has committed to actively fight racism through a series of initiatives and actions. Some of these actions included: the creation of a task force on policing and public safety for the Ann Arbor campus; the development and implementation of a plan to hire new full-time faculty members over the next three years with scholarly expertise in racial inequality and structural racism; as well as a reevaluation of the race and ethnicity curriculum requirements across the university’s 19 schools and colleges. These actions are just a few of the many ways that the entire U-M community is expressing its commitment to anti-racism.
We have also reimagined what traditional work and learning environments look like in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The university remains committed to delivering a world-class experience to students, faculty and staff. We have worked hard to ensure that both in-person and remote settings are inclusive, accessible and equitable. We have continued to connect our community through virtual events, conferences and experiences. Ultimately, our goal has been to bring as much of the University of Michigan experience to wherever our community may be.
As we reflect on our progress in Year Five of the DEI plan, we have also been afforded an opportunity to look toward our future. I am incredibly excited that the university has committed to another five-year DEI strategic plan beginning in fall 2023. Over this next year, we will engage at both the central and unit levels in an intensive systematic evaluation process that will allow us to celebrate our successes and identify where we need to do better. The results of this evaluation process will guide our planning of the next DEI plan—DEI 2.0. As a result, I anticipate even stronger DEI plans going into the future, as there will be more evidence-based outcomes to use as a framework, compared to our original plans.
This evaluation and planning process does not mean that we will stop moving forward on our current DEI efforts. We will continue to focus our efforts at all university levels to move DEI from a core value to becoming a standard operating procedure in all that we do as an institution. The commitment by university leadership to DEI 2.0 reinforces the idea that DEI is not a time-delineated initiative that can be achieved, where the university then moves onto the next initiative. Just as the university and the rest of society have struggled to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive from its beginning, we must actively attend to these values. As a result, I believe that we as a university must maintain our commitment to the perpetual work of DEI if we are to become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.
While I am very excited about the future of DEI at U-M, this also seems like the appropriate time for the transition of leadership. As a result, I announced earlier this year that I will be stepping down as Chief Diversity Officer, effective December 31. I will be returning to the faculty, a position that I have loved my entire professional career. I assure you that I will continue to be as involved as I possibly can in the university’s DEI work, and that I remain deeply committed to making sure that we as an institution meet our goals. I am deeply honored to have had the privilege of serving as chief diversity officer during these past seven years.
Although transition, change and challenges lie ahead, I remain confident in our future because of the determination and commitment of so many outstanding people across this great university. They are truly the Michigan Difference. As a result, I am confident that our institution will inspire hope and progress across higher education and the world.
Chief Diversity Officer
Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion
Students share their DEI perspectives and experiences at U-M and their hopes for the future.
U-M staff members describe their participation in DEI efforts and the many lessons they’ve learned.
Through teaching, scholarship and mentoring, faculty members are raising awareness about DEI and providing new opportunities for growth.