The University of Michigan is reaching the end of its initial five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plan (DEI 1.0) and is entering into a transitional period before the next five-year plan, according to an email to the campus community from Robert Sellers, vice provost for Equity and Inclusion, Thursday morning.
“In the 2022-23 academic year, our DEI planning efforts will rely on the input and engagement of our community to build out a more strategic, focused and impactful DEI plan,” Sellers wrote. “In fall 2023, U-M will officially launch the next DEI strategic plan. Throughout our nearly two-year transition process, we will remain vigilant in our commitment to DEI as a community.”
Launched in October 2016, the DEI 1.0 plan included 49 smaller plans individualized for each college and program. The plan also introduced Wolverine Pathways and the HAIL Program, which aimed to increase enrollment of minority students and support socioeconomic diversity. Other parts of the plan included providing financial support to University programs conducting research on diversity, as well as providing intercultural training for students, faculty and staff.
Throughout its initial years, the DEI 1.0 plan received criticism from students in light of multiple instances of racism and discrimmination targeting Black and Jewish students on campus. Students gathered in protest outside of former University President Mark Schlissel’s house in 2017, chanting ‘Actions not emails’ in reference to the University’s email responses instead of policy implementation to protect minority students.
Sellers wrote in the email that the conclusion of DEI 1.0 also marks the beginning of the evaluation period during which campus leadership will hold conversations with both students and faculty to discuss the transition to DEI 2.0. The evaluation period will continue through the 2021-22 academic year.
As part of the two-year transition period, Sellers announced the launch of a new website that will allow students to track progress and updates on the University’s DEI initiatives. The website includes a timeline of the DEI 2.0 initiative which spans from 2021-2023. Sellers said engagement from the campus community will be a key part for the next steps in the transition period.
“Participation, feedback and input from our entire community will be essential to the success of our next DEI strategic planning effort,” Sellers wrote.
The first part of the transition period will start with conversations within the campus community, Sellers wrote. These events will aim to provide a space for students and faculty to give feedback and share ideas for next steps.
“Throughout our nearly two-year transition process, we will remain vigilant in our commitment to DEI as a community,” Sellers said.
Students will receive information on how to participate in these discussions starting next week. Community conversation events will begin in May. Specific dates will be announced soon.
Sellers sent a second email, five hours later, with revised language.
“In our effort to communicate our commitment to advancing numerous DEI efforts, and the dismantling of anti-Semitism efforts, we clearly misstated our intentions and inadvertently suggested that we support anti-Semitism,” Sellers wrote. “That is the exact opposite of our intent. Thus, I want to make our intention clear: The University of Michigan remains vigilant and actively engaged in dismantling anti-Semitism through our new and ongoing commitments to our DEI work.”
Sellers also apologized for misstating the University’s intentions.
“On a personal level, I would like to apologize to all members of our community for this error and for the harm it has caused,” Sellers wrote. “As Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan, my personal and professional commitments to the dismantling of oppression and discrimination in all forms including anti-Semitism are at the core of who I strive to be.”
Daily News Editor Shannon Stocking can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.