Ford School launches its strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion

October 5, 2016

The Ford School has publicly released its five-year strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion, developed as part of a broad University of Michigan commitment launched by President Schlissel in September 2015.

The plan includes assessment, objectives, timetables, and review points for four central goals: diversifying ‘who we are’, diversifying ‘what and how we teach’, promoting an equitable and inclusive climate, and diversifying ‘our research and policy engagement’.

The Ford School’s plan builds on the school’s longstanding strength and commitment in this area. Dean Susan M. Collins notes in particular the large number of Ford School faculty whose research focuses on equity in health, education, financial security, and more; a high-profile speaker series that is known for its diversity across a number of dimensions; strong student leadership; and a diverse masters program.

“But we still have a long way to go,” says Collins. “To realize our goals, we must further diversify who we are--in terms of students, faculty, and staff. And we must ensure that our classrooms and climate truly and demonstrably respect diversity, value equity, and foster inclusion.”

Collins notes that she sees “a particular imperative here for a school of public policy. We’re training policy leaders who will be serving the needs of an increasingly diverse country and interconnected world,” she says. “The ability to navigate and lead on issues of equity and diversity is an integral part of the skillset we must provide our students.”

Associate Dean Paula Lantz will serve as faculty lead of the Ford School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives for the coming year.

The Ford School’s yearlong strategic planning process was led by co-chairs professor Shobita Parthasarathy and Susan Guindi, director of student and academic services.

Also on the committee were: Paul Courant, Professor of Public Policy, Economics and Information; Alexandra Thebaud, Business Manager; Susan Waltz, Professor of Public Policy; Demar Lewis, Master’s Student; Eric Riley, Undergraduate Student.

Collins notes that in addition to the broad community and student input involved, the Ford School’s plan’s particular strengths lie in its proactive approach to tackling classroom issues--engaging the faculty to evolve what and how we teach across the curriculum--and in the academic underpinnings for each strategic objective.

The plan was publicly released on October 5, but school leaders implemented a number of DEI-related activities earlier, as the academic year began. In early September, all of the school’s incoming students participated in bystander training, and a version of that program was customized for faculty and held at the first faculty meeting of the year. Several Ford School faculty also recently participated in a STRIDE (Committee on Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) workshop on how to best conduct faculty searches that are consistent with the school’s values regarding diversity.

Over the past year, the university – including the 19 schools and colleges, 30 units and the health system – has supported more than 210 community engagement opportunities for students, staff and faculty to provide feedback on their visions for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus environment. During that time, the units crafted 49 unique plans that reflect the feedback of their constituents.

The university’s central plan--which will officially launch on October 6 with a daylong series of events--drew on the overarching goals of the 49 unit plans and will serve as a representative of the unified and ongoing commitment to creating a campus in which people from many backgrounds experience a sense of belonging and have the opportunity not only to be heard, but also to contribute and excel.