In October 2016, the Ford School released a five-year strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion that builds on the school’s long-standing strength and commitment in this area. Developed through broad community and student involvement, the plan addressed four central goals:
Diversifying who we are
Diversifying what and how we teach
Promoting an equitable and inclusive climate
Diversifying our research and policy engagement
Recognizing there is still much work to do, this document reflects the initial accomplishments of the Ford School’s diversity plan efforts.
A new infrastructure to support DEI and integrate it throughout all functions and services of the school.
We created a new infrastructure to support the ongoing development, evaluation, accountability, and transparency of the Ford School’s DEI efforts. It includes:
A DEI officer, hired in 2017, who sits on the senior leadership team, and who serves as both a member of the faculty and as the staff lead for DEI initiatives.
The DEI Coalition, is composed of faculty, staff, and students. The coalition shares ideas, feedback, and concerns, and increases communication between students, faculty, and staff.
The DEI co-leads team, who provide leadership and coordination to improve unit-level processes that further the school’s commitment to a respectful, diverse, and inclusive culture.
Monthly DEI Updates newsletter to increase awareness and transparency of DEI-related programs and resources and regularly update the community of our strategic plan process.
At the Ford School DEI is an integral part of academic and strategic planning efforts; diversity is regularly discussed at faculty meetings and among senior leadership and is reemphasized in our updated core values.
“We know changing organizational culture takes intentional thinking and action involving all members of a community. And we know that lasting change and progress comes from changing organizational policies and practices.”
Former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and former DEI faculty co-lead (2015-2021)
Through intentional review and development of new practices, we seek to attract new and diverse students, faculty, and staff with diverse backgrounds to the Ford School to learn, research, and engage in policy. Our approach includes pipeline programs from high school to college to graduate school, student support, postdoctoral fellowships, and faculty hiring.
We developed and institutionalized new processes for all faculty searches based on best practices in open, inclusive searches using STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) and ADVANCE.
All faculty applicants must now submit a diversity statement about how their teaching, research, and service will contribute to the Ford School’s DEI goals with their other portfolio materials.
As part of their annual reporting, faculty must now respond about how their research, service, or policy engagement has helped the school advance its commitment to DEI.
We have hired a broadly diverse pool of faculty in terms of their research agendas, disciplinary training, and background that diversify and expand our curriculum offerings. We’re engaged in a University-wide anti-racism faculty hiring initiative that provide opportunity for units across campus to hire more faculty working in this area. As part of the first round of hires for the anti-racism hiring initiative, the Provost selected the Ford School’sRacial Justice in Technology proposal, submitted in partnership with the School of Information and the Stamps School of Art and Design.
We’ve made a concentrated effort to improve our staff hiring processes, to bring that work up to the level of success we’ve achieved in faculty hiring over the past several years. We reviewed staff hiring protocols to identify areas in our current recruitment and hiring processes where we can improve and better leverage outreach to connect with diverse populations. Staff were invited to attend information sessions on updated staff and hiring processes and are encouraged to complete the U-M Unconscious Bias Recruiting and Hiring Online Training module.
A broadly diverse array of national and international policy leaders join our faculty to teach and mentor students through the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. These visiting professors have significant policy and leadership experience—in government, non-profits, industry, and elsewhere. They expand and enrich the breadth of our course offerings and link our students and faculty to many policymaking communities. They teach graduate-level courses ranging in length from six weeks to a full semester; host public lectures, and advise and mentor students.
We have expanded our recruitment pipeline to attract students from broadly diverse backgrounds. This includes:
We’re offering annual simulations on policy issues through Wolverine Pathways to Detroit and Ypsilanti high school students.
The Ford School and the College of Engineering Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) launched a STEM Summer Camp for 55 Detroit high school students including a policy simulation.
In 2020, we launched a new BA minor to bring students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds into the Ford School community.
Student support continues to be a priority for our recruitment and retention efforts. We have increased our financial support to students for professional development, summer internships, and emergencies every year, for the last several years. Student support constituted 62% of our non-personnel operating costs in FY2020. In 2018, $243,050 was allocated towards MPP internships; in 2019, $314,250; and in 2020, $323,610.
In 2020 we established the Weill Scholars and Weill Fellows programs. Weill Scholars recognize two Rackham Master’s Awards recipients for their outstanding qualifications. With this generous gift, students receive two years of full tuition, a stipend, and health and dental care. We also established the Weill Fellow, also a Rackham Master’s Award recipient, who also receives full support, a stipend, and health and dental care, an internship on education and workforce development, and works with the Youth Policy Lab and Professor Brian Jacob.
During FY2020, Ford School students also received approximately another $5.1 million in support from Rackham, the Office of Financial Aid, and other cross campus sources. We have advocated strongly for the availability of Rackham Masters Awards (RMA) funds for Ford School students. The Ford School provides RMA awardees with two terms of funding and Rackham matches our contribution with an additional two terms of funding; together we cover each student’s entire graduate education (in-state or out-of-state), plus a stipend and grad care. This is approximately equivalent to $78,000 in total support per student per year, and after strong advocacy, we have been able to obtain 17 RMA slots available for each cohort of MPP students for the last several years.
We worked with many existing employers to pivot in-person internship commitments to remote work; however, not all employers were equipped to offer remote internships. To fill the gap, the Ford School increased student employment during the summer of 2020 by providing faculty research and research center opportunities that met the internship requirements.
One major focus over the past few years has been on our Leadership Initiative, which provides our students with the critical leadership development skills that allow them to be the “leaders and best” in their careers—to lead organizations, to lead others, and to lead self. The Leadership Initiative is a natural space to address and better understand issues of diverse leadership, difference, and concepts of mutual benefit when engaging with diverse communities. Some of the DEI-focused activities related to the Leadership Initiative include:
competency-based curricula that include a strong focus on management and leadership skills.
seminars, workshops, and leadership skill-building opportunities on topics ranging from “Women Leading Local Government” to “Entering & Engaging with Communities.”
interaction with a diverse group of leaders like Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and many other current and former policy leaders who model exemplary leadership practices, lessons, and reflections.
individual assessments that enhanced students’ self-awareness and understanding of others.
In 2020, during the pandemic, we prioritized fundraising for our student emergency fund, to help students cover rent, utilities, technology needs, food insecurity, unexpected travel expenses, and more.
We added important new perspectives to the Ford School Committee, our school’s external advisory committee, with key new additions of Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97), Dudley Benoit (MPP ‘95), Broderick Johnson (JD ‘83), and Annie Maxwell (MPP ‘02).
Given the Ford School’s mission to “prepare diverse leaders for public service,” our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion must be clear in our classrooms. We continue to strengthen and expand our course offerings, workshops and speaker events, and other student opportunities related to DEI.
We updated the core courses in the MPP curriculum to have a greater focus on racial justice. The most recent changes, implemented in fall 2021, provide increased attention throughout the core curriculum on the intersecting issues of leadership and management skills, and understanding structural racism and the historical role that policy has played both in building inequality and pursuing equality.
We updated our BA curriculum to require that all seniors take a course in program evaluation methods, which includes course content related to social inequality, structural racism, discrimination, and other DEI-related content. We also have added PUB POL 476: Applied Learning Seminar and the 2020 and 2021 case study was focused on structural inequalities and the role of policy history.
MLK Jr. Symposium with Susan Rice on” Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For”
“Navigating the Economic Crisis During a Global Pandemic”
“From Epidemiology to Equity”
“DACA: What happened in the Supreme Court?”
Our planned commencement speaker, Janet Murguia, President and CEO of UnidosUS, gave brief virtual remarks given the pandemic.
We held a virtual conversation with Cecilia Muñoz regarding her book, “More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You...and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise.”
Policy for the People and Students of Color in Public Policy co-sponsored a student-led conversation with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on “Progressive Politics and the 2020 Election.”
In collaboration with the University Musical Society, we hosted “A Conversation with Trevor Noah.” In this virtual event, Noah reflected on the state of our nation and discussed how we can come together around the arts, pursue racial justice, and rise to the challenge of this moment.
Leading up to the election we hosted a panel on “Continuing Challenges to Suffrage in Michigan in 2020: Who Still Can’t Vote?” with panelist Stephanie Chang, Dessa Cosma, Rev. Wendell Anthony, Matthew Fletcher, and Michael Steinberg.
A panel on “Policing Reform or Revolution” focused on police reform and mass incarceration featured panelists Lisa Daugaard, Broderick Johnson, David Klinger, and Christian Davenport.
We hosted a panel discussion on “Managing presidential campaigns: Lessons learned in 2020” with panelist Katie Packer Beeson, Greg Schultz, and Broderick Johnson.
In December 2020, we held an event focused on tribal sovereignty.
We expanded support and resources for Ford School student organizations whose programming advances DEI efforts. As a result, student organizations advanced the conversation on decolonization through student-led programming and invited speakers to discuss topics on Decolonizing International Policy, racial disparities in Voting and Electoral Politics and Criminal Justice, and How Colonial Policies attempt to make Indigenous Kinship into American Family.
More than half of our monthly faculty meetings have devoted time to learning and planning related to critical race theory, inclusive classrooms, eliminating bias from course syllabi, mental health and wellness, anti-racism curriculum changes, and more.
Non-personnel operating costs
students of color (U.S.)
Goal 3: Promoting an equitable and inclusive climate
We strive to offer formal and informal opportunities that build community and foster openness to multiple perspectives and backgrounds outside the classroom and through interactions with one another. We acknowledge the particular mental health issues facing many students in what has been an excruciatingly difficult time for our country.
We made some notable improvements to Weill Hall, including a renovated student lounge, gender inclusive restrooms, new study nooks, and a personal care space for nursing mothers. The updates make Weill Hall a more inclusive and welcoming space for our community.
We created Café Fordies, to create space for students to interact with fellow Ford students that they might not normally get to know. Students are randomly matched into groups of three each month and encouraged to connect sometime that month to get to know one another either in-person in a public-health informed manner or virtually.
We established avenues for students to confidentially report issues of concern, including discrimination and unlawful bias through an anonymous feedback form that is sent to Ford School leadership.
We placed special emphasis on our international students, providing customized support, such as:
A volunteer buddy system where returning students serve as points of contact for new and incoming students, the International Student Lunch, informal coffee/dinner chats to share resources, virtual social events, and Q&A sessions, career workshops that focus on job searches and international visas, career office hours, alumni career conversations.
The American Government Module is a free, non-credit program offered during pre-Welcome Week to learn about the U.S. political system.
Small grants are available to student organizations to design and carry out activities pertaining to international affairs/international policy.
We encouraged and supported faculty and graduate student instructors (GSIs) to share resources and utilize tools to foster inclusive classrooms and anti-racist pedagogy.
We provided individual coaching and one-on-one support to faculty, as needed, to address classroom climate issues, student concerns, and best practices related to teaching strategies.
We regularly facilitated DEI-related discussions in faculty meetings and GSI check-ins, with topics such as Critical Race Theory, “Inclusive and Policy-Relevant Statistical Methods,” “Anti-racist teaching,” “Group Dynamics,” “Teaching and Learning in a Tense Election Season,” “Reactions to Disruptions, Disrespect in the Classroom,” “Teaching International Students Pedagogy and Cross-Cultural Group Work,” and “Trauma-Informed Teaching.”
We partnered with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to hire an embedded clinical social worker, together with the School of Education, to provide additional 1:1 counseling and educational programming tailored for Ford School students.
We welcomed student perspectives in decision-making. A new student-led Anti-prejudice Taskforce was formed to amplify the actions and voices of students working towards anti-prejudice at the Ford School. We also created a new Student Leadership Team in 2020 to advise and directly assist the administration in pandemic-related changes in regard to Ford School academics.
Goal 4: Diversifying ‘our research and policy engagement’
As public policy researchers, faculty at the Ford School identify important social and public policy problems using rigorous methods, and develop and analyze solutions of public concern—bringing to light important social, health, and social justice concerns, examining the implications of public policies, and identifying inequities that demand policy solutions. Our faculty demonstrate a strong commitment to research questions related to DEI, particularly with regard to issues of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, and gender. This includes studies of the effects of poverty and inequality on educational performance, the effects of immigration policy on outcomes for immigrants, and the ways in which those with limited resources engage in innovation. We make a concerted effort to lift up their findings and connect them with the public and policymakers.
Our faculty continue to lead on issues related to social and racial justice. They think, speak out, and teach about structural inequality–about differential outcomes and experiences for marginalized populations in education, policing, health, economics, finance, and other key systems.
In September 2020 we launched a new school website. We call attention to our community’s work through impact areas on topics such as racial justice, Detroit, COVID-19, and diplomacy.
Research centers run by Ford School faculty Earl Lewis (Center for Social Solutions) and Luke Shaefer (Poverty Solutions) announced an inaugural faculty grants competition, with additional support from the Ford School and other units, for action-based research aimed at confronting and combating systemic racism in society. The funded projects aim to address challenges such as systemic oppression, organizational exclusion, and institutional discrimination.
We bring in leading experts and policy leaders for public and community events that highlight conversations across differences and how they’ve navigated challenges and choices in their careers. Students often play a key role in identifying speakers they would like to see.
As a result of our commitment and strength in social policy and research on anti-poverty policy, Hal and Carol Kohn provided the Ford School with a generous gift to establish three new professorships to advance equity and inclusion: the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy; the Karl and Martha Kohn Professorship of Social Policy; and the Arlene Susan Kohn Professorship of Social Policy.