Welcome to a new academic year. I am thrilled to extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to our students, faculty and staff, including those who are joining our Wolverine community for the first time. With the beginning of each new semester, I always like to take a moment to reflect on what makes this campus so special. The people first and foremost – our students, staff, and faculty – along with our academic programs, world-class research and scholarship, and commitment to community and public engagement, are among many strengths that truly make the University of Michigan unlike any other place in the world.
I am incredibly proud to be part of a university community that continually seeks to reflect the values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in all that we do, and that is willing to stand up for these values in the face of resistance. For example, in the past several years, we’ve seen the principles of DEI challenged across this country in varying capacities – legally and politically. But our commitment to DEI has not wavered at U-M, and we have not backed down. The fundamental values of DEI continue to guide our current actions and shape our future.
In support of this commitment, we are embarking on the next phase of our DEI journey this academic year with the launch of our DEI Strategic Plan, DEI 2.0. Among our many major focus areas are fostering students academic success, which includes identifying and addressing opportunity gaps across demographic groups; enhancing physical and digital accessibility on campus, with an emphasis on identifying and evaluating opportunities to go beyond ADA compliance and establish broader university-wide accessibility requirements; and expanding DEI education and training resources for all U-M employees. A strategy cross-cutting our work emphasizes systems-level thinking – challenging and changing structures, policies, practices and norms that unintentionally restrict access or opportunities for thriving for all.
As members of the University of Michigan, we carry a legacy of academic excellence, innovation and leadership, along with a mission to use these strengths in the service of public and societal impact. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential conditions for advancing this legacy and mission. This is our opportunity to channel these attributes into our ongoing efforts to cultivate a campus culture that celebrates diversity, champions equity and prioritizes inclusion. Our differences are our greatest strength, and by embracing these differences, we will shape a brighter, more equitable future for ourselves and for generations to come.
In the months ahead, our DEI 2.0 plan will help guide our efforts; however, each of us will have a unique role in this journey. Your actions, words and interactions have the power to shape our community. I urge you to actively participate, engage and contribute to our shared mission of building a more just and inclusive world.
Again, welcome back, and may this academic year be one of discovery, growth and progress.
Tabbye M. Chavous
Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Professor of Education and Psychology