CHAVOUS: Championing Diversity in the Face of National Challenges

"from the desk of tabbye chavous" pen and paper

To the University community,

At the University of Michigan, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are core to our mission and inseparable from our pursuit of excellence in education, research and public service. As I attend national gatherings and connect with university leaders across the country, I am constantly reminded of the regard in which they hold our DEI work, and the appreciation they have for our unwavering leadership in this arena, particularly at this time when DEI backlash is running rampant across the country.

Despite the national challenges and pressures, we persist because we have over 30 years of empirical evidence demonstrating the benefits of DEI – students, faculty and staff all benefit when we live, learn and work together in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus. Indeed, there are many tangible examples of DEI work happening across our campus that demonstrate why we must continue this vital work.

We persist because we must continue supporting programs that facilitate college access and completion of talented students from communities that have historically not had equitable opportunities for higher education. We persist because we must continue to sponsor research and scholarship initiatives that solve complex issues in our society and save countless lives across the globe. We persist because we must provide students with unique leadership development opportunities so that they are equipped to be transformative, equity-minded leaders. We persist because our alums worldwide point to the positive impact that DEI programs have had on their lives and career trajectories.

We persist because now more than ever our world needs citizens and leaders who can engage diverse perspectives and foster a deeper understanding and respect for all religious and cultural identities – and this is, in fact, at the core of our DEI work.

Yet, despite all the evidence of the impact of DEI work, there continue to be those who question the value of, and propagate myths about this work. Let’s be clear, these attacks are disingenuous and unconcerned with facts. These attacks intentionally misrepresent what DEI is, and are often framed under the guise of supporting our freedoms when they are actually regressive, desiring to eliminate any progress we’ve made related to education (including history) and educational access, voting rights, and healthcare access and reproductive rights, to name just a few areas. These attacks also seek to stoke fears and divisions across religious and cultural communities.

The work we do individually and collectively to advance DEI in our society is more important than ever. Know that I will continue to speak out, act and educate. But at this moment, ALL of our voices are critically important. I have been so encouraged in conversations I’ve had with faculty, staff, students and alums who have shared with me the lasting, transformative impact of our DEI work, in their careers and communities. I encourage you to continue to use every opportunity to communicate how your experiences with our DEI work have made a difference, while also knowing that the U-M will be unwavering in our efforts to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus, nation and world.



Tabbye M. Chavous, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Professor of Education and Psychology

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