University of Michigan Implements $85M Diversity Strategic Plan

The University of Michigan (UM) announced last week the creation of a new five-year strategic plan — launched this month — aimed at improving diversity and inclusion on campus, for which the university has allocated $85 million.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, initiated by UM President Mark Schlissel and developed over the last year, was informed by two campus-wide studies, one of which showed that the university needed to do more to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty, and staff. The other survey demonstrated the need for “more robust cultural skills training” for all campus constituents to improve the campus climate. The plan was also shaped by feedback from students, faculty, and staff.

“The campus-wide plan we are unveiling is a set of actions for today,” Schlissel told the Detroit Free Press. “Our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are prepared to make the investments needed for this plan.”

The diversity strategic plan, the first of its kind at UM, is comprised of 49 individual unit plans from the university’s 19 schools, administrative divisions, student life, athletics department, and health system. These individualized plans will allow each division to address the unique challenges and opportunities they face.

Three key goals, or strategies, make up the campus-wide plan: 1) create an inclusive and equitable campus climate; 2) recruit, retain, and develop a diverse community; and 3) support innovative and inclusive scholarship and teaching. UM will support these areas with specific efforts such as cultural awareness training, student programming through the new Trotter Multicultural Center, a campus climate survey, pipeline programs, tools to improve search and hiring processes, financial support for diversity research by faculty, training on inclusive teaching methods, and more.

The university’s investment also includes adding the role of chief diversity officer to the existing position of the vice provost for equity, inclusion, and academic affairs. In addition, MU will track metrics and evaluate its progress toward creating a more diverse and inclusive campus.

“With [the plan’s] implementation, we continue to build on our heritage of diversity, equity, and inclusion, with the understanding that we can make our greatest contribution to knowledge by building an environment in which all of our community members can flourish,” MU’s website reads. “It is based on the conviction that excellence is not possible without diversity in the broadest sense of the word.”