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Faculty Allies Program

Action Item (as stated with DEI strategic plan launch in 2016)

The university will expand Rackham’s Faculty Allies for Diversity program, in which designated faculty allies work within their respective units to serve as graduate student support contacts on DEI issues. As of December 2017, there were 89 faculty allies representing 81 Rackham departments and programs. The future goal is for every Rackham program to designate a faculty ally and include that ally in its DEI efforts around graduate education.

Progress update

Faculty Allies (FA) serve as key contacts for DEI issues in graduate education within their respective departments—participating in DEI workshops, mentoring graduate students and playing a vital role in raising awareness and marshaling resources to address issues of inclusion and climate in their programs. Rackham offers support in the form of workshops to discuss best practices for and challenges to DEI work; resource and information sharing on DEI issues; inclusion in Rackham Program Review meetings; and the opportunity to apply for a Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant of up to $12,000 per year on behalf of their graduate program.

During the 2020–2021 academic year, the Faculty Allies (FA) Program succeeded in extending its impact despite continued COVID-19 restrictions. In previous years, Faculty Allies workshops have functioned as standalone sessions which featured reports of successful Faculty Ally grant activities, created space to share best practices and ideas, offered feedback on grant applications and provided opportunities to dialogue with campus DEI leaders. This year, by contrast, we approached Rackham Faculty Allies as a Learning Community and organized four Faculty Allies Workshops as an iterative series. We convened a team of Rackham experts to design sessions that drew on campus resources and built on each other, exploring such topics as racial blind spots and unconscious bias, racialized assumptions about the academy and academic knowledge. The broader goals were: 1) to equip Faculty Allies with a basic critical understanding of how race shapes expertise, knowledge production and institutional structures in the academy; and 2) to provide Faculty Allies with a set of skills to more effectively support DEI values and initiatives within their programs. In addition, we hosted a grant writing workshop and a year-end town hall to gather feedback on the new learning community format.

For the 2021–2022 Faculty Allies and Student Ally for Diversity Grant competition, Rackham received 39 proposals. Of those, 22 included applications for Student Allies (SA). All programs that applied were granted some support. In total, $365,704 was allocated for FA grant activities and an additional $100,000 for SA grants.

Both Rackham and non-Rackham programs received Faculty Allies and Student Ally grants, including Architecture, Cell and Developmental Biology, Chemical Biology, Combined Program in Education and Psychology, Educational Studies, History, Mathematics, Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, Ross School of Business, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Social Work and Social Science and Political Science, among many others.

Responsibility: Rackham Graduate School