Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes, DEI Officer Stephanie Sanders, and Associate DEI Officer Dominique Adams-Santos provide an update on how the Ford School is examining, learning, and connecting with our community to further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
What are your hopes for DEI work at the Ford School this year?
Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes:
I am so inspired by our community, and my hope is that each of you feels energized and empowered to use your voice, talents, and skills to make the Ford School a truly diverse and inclusive space. We have both the privilege and responsibility of advancing the public good, and that commitment starts right here at home with each other. My hope is that we build on the existing legacy of the Ford School by co-creating the future that we all desperately need and deserve.
The Ford School’s first five-year DEI plan ended in 2021 in conjunction with the University. What happened and what did we learn?
DEI Officer Stephanie Sanders:
We are excited to continue building on the accomplishments from the first 5-year strategic plan. We continue to open up recruiting pipelines to bring in students from diverse backgrounds and support faculty in adjusting courses to integrate elements of structural racism. The Center for Racial Justice, which we launched last year, has exciting programs to help expand knowledge about the complex intersections between race and public policy and social justice.
Importantly, we want to make sure we continue our momentum for the interim period between the 5-year plan that wrapped up in 2021, and the U-M’s next DEI strategic plan, which we will launch in early fall 2023.
We are really excited about the set of six DEI priorities we identified last year to work on now and for the next year until the next plan is in place. These are based on input from members of our community, data analysis, survey questions, and reflecting on what we’ve learned so far about our efforts. We had an amazing event last spring where we heard feedback from students–such as fortifying our commitment to disability justice and fostering a more inclusive environment for international students–that we are integrating into our priorities and initiatives at the Ford School. We continue to rely on the input and feedback of community members. To help us do that we are creating new bridges to our community with a focus on communication.
This fall we will be hiring a communications specialist to help us advance DEI within and beyond the Ford School and the University of Michigan, and elevate DEI values in public policy discourse. I am also thrilled to welcome Dominique to her new role as associate DEI officer. She, along with Ford School community members, will help us build out a focused and impactful DEI 2.0 plan.
How can the community learn more and be involved in DEI efforts at the Ford School?
Associate DEI Officer Dominique Adams-Santos:
Right now, we’re gearing up for our DEI 2.0 planning year. A critical component of this work is driven by our DEI Coalition, which is a dedicated body of faculty, staff, and student representatives who provide thought leadership on all things related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Ford School. This year, the DEI Coalition will work on the front lines to gather recommendations, questions, and feedback from our community to help shape priorities for the next five years. Throughout the year, please share your thoughts with coalition members!
We have an exciting slate of speakers joining us for The Center for Racial Justice’s Racial Foundations of Public Policy series. This series focuses on the historical roots and impact of race in shaping public policy as both a disciplinary field and as a course of action.
Additionally, we’re super excited about our community event, “DEI Why,” on Tuesday, October 25. This gathering will be a special opportunity to affirm our DEI values and to reflect on the work we’ve done individually and as a collective to make the Ford School a more equitable and just community. Be on the lookout for a special hallway display and an opportunity to add your “DEI Why.” I hope to see you there!