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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fundraising

Progress Update

The Office of University Development (OUD) continues to work in collaboration with chief development officers in every school, college and unit to identify their top DEI fundraising priorities and which of the university’s active gift funds serve a purpose related to DEI. Of those units that were able to identify their DEI funds, U-M raised $14,594,746 for DEI initiatives from 15,061 unique donors in FY21. 

In planning for the next fundraising campaign, DEI remains a critical element of campaign themes, and leadership has further emphasized the need to include DEI fundraising within university-wide initiatives. At the unit level, campaign planning meetings with each school, college and unit include discussion of their DEI-specific priorities and how they can be supported by the unit’s campaign plan. We are also working with Deputy Chief Diversity Officer & Director of Implementation for the DEI Strategic Plan Katrina Wade-Golden to identify DEI fundraising priorities across campus through the DEI 2.0 strategic planning process.

Notable highlights include:
  • Diversifying Our Donor Base:  In Year Five, OUD and its partners made significant progress in diversifying the donor base and promoting more equitable donor engagement through multiple fundraising initiatives such as The Raise: Generations of Black Excellence, the Women’s Philanthropy Committee (WPC) and the NextGen Committee. These initiatives are building critical infrastructure vital to the success of our next comprehensive campaign by enhancing donor engagement data, increasing diversity on our volunteer boards and developing and sharing best practices to engage people from underrepresented and marginalized identities and backgrounds.
  • DEI Leadership Council:  The DEI Leadership Council is now completing its second year of work. This university-wide volunteer network of philanthropic alumni and friends is deeply committed to ensuring that U-M continues to be a community of leaders and best in which all individuals are afforded an equal opportunity to thrive. Vice Provost Rob Sellers oversees the DEI Leadership Council, which in turn provides valuable counsel and input on real-world implications of our DEI initiatives. The group met twice this year to address community engagement, campus reactivation and DEI fundraising for the next campaign.

George Floyd Memorial Scholarship: During the memorial service for George Floyd, Dr. Scott Hagen, president of North Central University in Minnesota, challenged university presidents nationwide to join in creating a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. Soon after, U-M alumna Marchell Willian proposed establishing a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund and made the initial gift. As the first Michigan-led grassroots campaign for ODEI, this scholarship will begin the process of diversifying both the types of scholarships offered and their giving focus. In FY21, $80,600 was raised from 59 donors, including Willian. The first recipient, a Wolverine Pathways graduate, will receive the award in the fall.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Data Support

Progress update

Since Year One of the DEI Strategic Plan implementation, ODEI has partnered with the Office of Budget and Planning and University Human Resources to build a repository of diversity-, equity- and inclusion-related data. In Year Five, the development and release of annual unit-level metrics reports was advanced, with the fourth set of reports sent in spring 2021 to align with the annual DEI Strategic Plan reporting process.

The metrics reports provided to multiple stakeholders in the 50 units with DEI strategic plans will inform the upcoming evaluation of the five-year strategic plan and continuing DEI efforts, as we move toward the next DEI strategic plan initiative, DEI 2.0. Previously, the first and second release of the unit-level DEI Metrics reports (2018 and 2019, respectively) were distributed to all units with DEI strategic plans in the fall. The third set of unit-level DEI Metrics reports was released in summer 2020.

Metrics identified for ongoing tracking on key dimensions of DEI—at both the university and unit level—draw on several sources of institutional data. All units with DEI strategic plans received data on demographic composition and climate survey indicators. In addition, academic units received graduation and enrollment data for students as well as tenure-status data for faculty.

In Year Three, ODEI further optimized the DEI Metrics Dashboard, which was launched in Year Two through the collaborative efforts of ODEI, Information and Technology Services and the Office of Budget and Planning as a tool for generating unit-based DEI metrics reports. The dashboard shifted from generational descriptors (e.g., Baby Boomers, Millennials, etc.) as proxies for age to actual age bands for staff.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Innovation Grant Program

Progress update

This initiative is now completed, but was active in the first three years of the five-year DEI Strategic Plan. A total of 40 grants were selected for full or partial funding over the three-year grant period.

In Year One of the strategic plan, the university established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Innovation Grants as a dedicated DEI activity fund to encourage innovative ideas that promote, enhance and celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion campuswide. Under the terms of this three-year program, all students, faculty and staff were encouraged to submit proposals for individual grants of up to $10K. In the third and final year of the DEI Innovation Grant Program, teams of faculty, students and staff reviewed 134 applications—with 80 of those submitted by students. The 18 winners received funding that totaled nearly $95,000.

The inaugural Request for Proposals took place in April of 2017. During the first two cycles, 149 applications for one-time grants reflecting a broad range of issues and concerns were received and reviewed by teams of faculty, staff, students and the DEI central office staff. The objective was to fund DEI-related ideas and projects with scalability potential for broader use.

The results for the third and final year of this grant program included:

  • 6 staff awards for a total of $38,016
  • 6 student awards totaling $24,685
  • 6 faculty awards totaling $32,274

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional Network

Progress update

With over 100 members representing 50 units—each having its own DEI strategic plan—the DEI Implementation Leads Group (DEI-ILG) supports and develops leaders across the institution. In the past year, members demonstrated resilience, adaptability and fortitude as they moved through the final year of the initial five-year DEI Strategic Plan. As they and many others across campus continued with remote operations, DEI Leads worked to mitigate the disparate impact of inequities while advancing new efforts to address structural racism. Rather than winding down, the Leads refocused and amplified DEI efforts that will continue for years to come.

Among its most meaningful accomplishments, the university’s five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic planning process created a vibrant campus network of DEI-related professionals—both faculty and staff—in many cases adding DEI work to their existing positions or appointments. Through programs that provide resources and support, facilitate collaboration and enhance outcomes for individual and collective projects, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI) has sustained and expanded this vibrant group of professionals charged with managing implementation of their unit-based DEI plans. Functioning as a campuswide catalyst, the Implementation Leads Group contributes in vital ways to the success of every DEI professional across the university by encouraging collaboration and enhancing impact at both the unit and university level.

During the 2020–21 academic year, ODEI continued to organize monthly DEI-ILG meetings via Zoom to share best practices, discuss issues and engage with guest speakers and one another. After each meeting, DEI Leads received an email summary that included links to resources and tools from central administration. A new DEI Leads workplace site provided an additional remote venue for information sharing and connection. 

In Year Five, the collective actions of the Implementation Leads Group continued to generate significant impact across campus. As in years past, DEI Leads guided their units’ work across recruitment and retention, education and research in an effort to build an equitable and inclusive environment. This included leading and doing DEI work by developing programs and advising on policies and practices. In addition, they created communication and feedback channels to keep their community members informed and engaged.

DEI Leads advocated for stronger attention to anti-racism in campuswide DEI work and demonstrated a new level of leadership in moving anti-racist initiatives forward. Many DEI Leads participated in multiple professional development opportunities focused on anti-racism offered by campus experts as well as external organizations. In summer 2021, a U-M Strategic DEI Leadership Institute was offered as the annual DEI Leads professional development opportunity. Led by Dr. Damon A. Williams, U-M alumnus and founder of the National Inclusive Excellence Academy, this two-day virtual retreat focused on leading anti-racism efforts, allyship and preparing for a campuswide transition to the next DEI Strategic Plan initiative, DEI 2.0.

In past years, the efforts of DEI Leads have been recognized at a lunch celebration hosted by President Schlissel and Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Sellers. This past year, President Schlissel, CDO Sellers and Provost Susan Collins participated in multiple DEI Leads meetings to recognize ongoing efforts and engage in discussion. An in-person recognition event will be held in fall 2021 as part of the annual DEI Summit.

Going forward, the Leads will continue to advance DEI efforts with immediate impact as well as initiatives that lay the groundwork for sustained and lasting change.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Recognition Awards

Progress update

In Year Five, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) continued to collaboratively support and promote several awards recognizing individuals and groups of faculty, staff and students whose efforts have significantly contributed to building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus environment. A growing number of schools, colleges and units have also instituted DEI-related awards.

Nominations for DEI recognition awards are widely solicited and publicized through campuswide communications including emails, social media, the University Record and via awards luncheons and other recognition events. These honors include but are not limited to:

  • The James T. Neubacher Award for disability awareness and advocacy efforts by faculty, staff, students or alumni
  • The Harold Johnson Diversity Service Award for faculty
  • The James S. Jackson Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award
  • The Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award for staff members and staff teams
  • The Michigan Medicine DEI Advocate Award

Staff Ombudsperson Position

Progress Update

The Staff Ombuds Office, established in 2017, promotes the university’s DEI commitment and core values by addressing issues that create conflict at the intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural levels. Given the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year and a half, the Staff Ombudsperson strategically evaluated how best to offer and deliver high-quality services to eligible staff, senior leaders and other stakeholders. We evaluated our work from a different lens, keeping in mind our primary objectives to educate, inform and act as a catalyst for staff by promoting a positive, inclusive and accessible workplace. Our emphasis when working with stakeholders was on how to create a more diverse, engaged and equitable organization where staff feel their contribution is valued. 

Additionally, the Staff Ombuds Office spent considerable time building collaborative relationships around culture change efforts across campus and Michigan Medicine. We have successfully garnered buy-in from senior leaders and forged partnerships in alignment with DEI efforts to promote a “speak up” culture without fear of reprisal; such a culture ultimately helps to improve trust, mutual respect, accountability and retention efforts.

Our second full year in operation saw a 20% increase in visitors to the Staff Ombuds Office over FY20, resulting in 600 (new and return) appointments being facilitated. In FY21, much of the ombuds effort focused on helping staff clarify and understand newly implemented COVID-19 policies, procedures and guidelines that impacted their workplace, e.g., furloughs, remote and in-person work, etc. Also, the staff ombuds consulted with HR and senior leaders to ensure fairness in how new policies were applied. Reported conflicts included civility/respect/equity of treatment, excessive stress, retaliation, communication and lack of transparency. Of staff members utilizing the office, 54% were from the Ann Arbor campus and 46% were from Michigan Medicine, 22% of the visitors held a management-status position, while 78% were in non-managerial positions.


In May of 2017, a working committee assembled by Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Robert M. Sellers recommended the appointment of a staff ombudsperson. This position was posted on April 23, 2018. Chief among the responsibilities for this position are providing university staff members with impartial conflict resolution services, information and referrals; serving as a campuswide resource for policy and procedures; acting as a liaison between individuals and university administration; identifying problems, trends and organizational concerns; and making recommendations for systems change.

In 2018, Dr. Jacqueline Bowman was selected to fill the position of Staff Ombudsperson and immediately began establishing the structures and partnerships necessary to support her role within the university’s DEI initiative. A central office was configured and has been fully operational since September of 2019, including the hiring of a limited number of professional staff members to provide consultation services.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Communications and Marketing

Progress update

In support of DEI efforts across the university, communications professionals from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and U-M Public Affairs continued working together to provide critical updates and announcements to faculty, staff, students and community members. Communications were shared through social media, news articles and event promotion, and raised awareness via publications at the local, regional and national level. Achievements of Year Five included the launch of a DEI Summit website, an all-virtual DEI Summit and report and a resource guide for issues impacting African Americans and Asian Americans & Pacific Isalnder communities at the university.

ODEI continued to manage two social media accounts: @UMichDiversity on Twitter and a Facebook page, UMichDiversity. Posts included news, events, photos, videos, live tweeting and other items that communicated U-M’s active efforts to cultivate a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.

In partnership with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, ODEI worked with campus units and departments to continue developing dynamic news stories that educate target audiences on the university’s commitment to diversity, raise awareness of our strategic plans, and position U-M as an international leader in diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. The university’s DEI efforts were consistently highlighted in both internal and external publications at the local and national level.

Year Five brought significant progress in DEI resources and communications. ODEI launched several new digital initiatives, including a DEI Summit website to align with the annual Summit event, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fourth annual DEI Progress Report was presented, for the first time, in a fully web-based format, including infographics, video and text components and with a more navigable and searchable format. Feedback on the new report format was very positive, based on over 300 survey responses. A digital resource guide including programs, resource initiatives and activities that are, as part of their mission, addressing issues that face the African American community at UM-Ann Arbor, was created. Communications and news covered the university’s continued commitment to condemning societal instances of anti-Asian racism as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact our nation, as well as its condemnation of systemic racism as national unrest continued in response racist violence and police brutality. To provide timely updates, resources and support, in addition to regular communications with DEI Leads campuswide, ODEI began a bi-weekly email rotation from Chief Diversity Officer Robert M. Sellers and Deputy Chief Diversity Officer Katrina Wade-Golden. 

ODEI leaders and communications staff members along with central university communications staff members began planning and socializing the upcoming transition from DEI 1.0 (2016–2021 strategic plan) to DEI 2.0 (launching in 2023, following a year of evaluation and a year of planning). Consistent messaging focused on the fact that our DEI work will continue and is ongoing. A timeline infographic was shared with DEI Leads to use with unit-based communications, and news stories about the transition provided additional context. In summer 2021, a new page on the website was created focusing on the transition to DEI 2.0.

These efforts continue to reflect and support the university’s commitment to ongoing DEI efforts campuswide.