The University will introduce a new program to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity among students by giving local high schoolers the chance to earn a full, four-year tuition scholarship, University President Mark Schlissel announced Friday morning.

Titled Wolverine Pathways, the new program will come at no cost to students. The first iteration of the program will choose 120 students — 60 seventh graders and 60 high schoolers — for Wolverine Pathways in January from the Southfield and Ypsilanti school districts.

Though the first round will select only students from those grade levels, the University aims to expand the program with each year, encompassing students in grades seven through 12.

“Inseparable from our efforts to enhance our academic excellence as a public good is our work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan,” Schlissel said at a breakfast for campus leaders. “We cannot be excellent without being diverse, in the broadest sense of that word.”

The students will work with tutors and mentors in math, English and science during eight-week sessions in the fall, winter and summer. If these students successfully complete the program, apply and are admitted to the University, they will earn a scholarship covering all tuition fees for their 4 years.

University Provost Martha Pollack’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, led by Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs, devised Wolverine Pathways. The program provides many other resources for low income and minority students, such as leadership opportunities, cultural events, test preparation, visits to campus and resources for their parents or guardians.

The launch of Wolverine Pathways follows the enrollment of the most racially diverse freshman class since 2005. Underrepresented minority students represent 12.8 percent this fall’s incoming class, a 2.8-percent increase from last year’s incoming class.

In 2005, underrepresented minorities made up 13.8 percent of the entering class. However, representation of minority students slowly declined following the statewide ballot proposal, Proposal 2, which banned the use of race-based affirmative action in public entities.

Schlissel thanked Kedra Ihsop, associate vice president for enrollment management, and her team for working to enroll a more diverse student body within the confines of the law. He noted Ishop made significant changes to financial aid, recruitment and admission policies during his first year at the helm of the University.

“I want to thank the many individuals who have worked very hard to achieve these gains in a relatively short time,” Schlissel said.

The University also launched a new website detailing their diversity efforts: The website provides resources for students, as well as provides a space for online discussions regarding issues of inclusion.

For more discussion on diversity within campus, Schlissel is hosting a campus-wide diversity summit open to all members of the community on Nov. 10.

Last February, Schlissel launched a Strategic Plan for Diversity to improve equity and inclusion on campus. He appointed 60 facilitators within each college and campus unit to collaborate with faculty, staff and students to outline diversity efforts unique to their unit.

At the breakfast, Schlissel said these individual unit plans are due by the end of the academic school year. 

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