Findings & Recommendations

Strategic Objectives: Key Findings & Recommendations (for the College) top

Our first three objectives could be termed “foundational”, as they are necessary to create the processes, tools, structures and capabilities to effectively deliver on our vision and strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Increase the understanding and application of diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts to build skills and provide learning experiences to effectively and constructively engage in dialogue on DEI-related topics across our community.

Finding: Many in our community lack an understanding of key concepts relevant to diversity, equity and inclusion or have not had thoughtful and substantive opportunities to engage these concepts, especially across boundaries of difference. Our different identities – gender, race, international or domestic, sexual identity, socioeconomic class, religion, etc. – can make it difficult to work together. This influences interactions of all types: in the classroom, in team-oriented project work, in hiring processes, in research groups, in meetings, in student mentoring and advising, and in social settings. There is a need for more skill development and experience for intercultural engagement and conflict resolution. It is noted that the College currently has conflict resolution processes in place for students and faculty; these processes can be enhanced through additional intercultural skills. No clear process exists for staff and this is a need (addressed as a University recommendation for a staff ombudsman).

Recommendations:

  1. Develop approaches so that all students and postdoctoral scholars learn about critical concepts such as privilege, unconscious bias, accumulation of (dis)advantage, and micro-aggressions, and increase their skill level in communicating across cultures. For undergraduate students, we will focus on including content in new or existing courses. For graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, and in coordination with Rackham, we will consider using the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) program for teaching this material. Methods to assess our approach will be developed and implemented.
  2. Develop approaches to expose our staff to these same concepts. A workshop on unconscious bias was piloted this year and will continue, and other approaches may also be useful.
  3. Increase the number of opportunities and incentives for faculty, lecturers, and research scientists to be exposed to these same concepts. Our approach here will utilize single-topic events, particularly Faculty Recruitment (STRIDE) workshops, CRLT Players workshops, Rackham Graduate Admissions workshops, and the ADVANCE Program’s Faculty Leading Change workshops, as well as periodic presentation of critical material in more routine setting, e.g. faculty meetings, graduate chairs meetings, and undergraduate program chairs meetings.

Build a robust and complete set of metrics with an established standardized methodology for the continuous collection and monitoring of information (data) relevant to the reporting and evaluation of DEI-related issues within Michigan Engineering.

Finding: Understanding and influencing DEI requires quantitative and qualitative measures of how we are doing. Some quantitative and qualitative data are routinely reported to appropriate leadership in the College. For example, Rackham reports on the admission process and tracks students through their Master’s and PhD programs, by program, allowing assessment of the diversity of the applicant pool and whether different demographic groups fare differently in, for example, time to graduation. The ADVANCE Program provides data on faculty diversity, and at the College’s request administers and interprets climate surveys of departments every 4-6 years. Data on the diversity of the staff, postdoctoral scholars, lecturer, and research scientist ranks are available from the College and distributed during the annual budget process. Our analysis indicated, however, that other types of data are not routinely produced or examined, that data are available at irregular intervals and in non-standardized forms, that data are incomplete or nonexistent for some student demographics, and that there are few opportunities to discuss data relevant to DEI with the appropriate college representatives at the table. Some of these data are college-specific and even course-specific (e.g. demographics of students involved in extracurricular and co-curricular activities or in particular gateway courses) and unlikely to be obtained or reported at the university level. It will be difficult to assess our progress on DEI without a more regular reporting, monitoring and discussion of the relevant data.

Recommendations:

  1. For each constituency (undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, lecturers, research scientists, faculty and staff), determine an appropriate set of DEI metrics, how and by whom data will be obtained, how the data will be used (including appropriate training regarding legal use of such data) and in what form and how often these data will be reported.
  2. Establish regular meetings of appropriate leaders at which DEI metrics will be discussed.
  3. Institute a yearly “DEI state of the college” report by the Dean to describe the status of the college on various DEI metrics, progress on our strategic plan, challenges, and opportunities.

Build mechanisms, including leadership accountability and reward systems, to bring a “constancy of purpose” in focusing on DEI-related issues and opportunities within the college.

Finding: Our current efforts in DEI[1] have gradually and unevenly been integrated into specific and multiple roles (e.g. Associate Deans, department chairs, Office of Student Affairs, Office of Graduate Education, CEDO, undergraduate and graduate program chairs, etc.). To ensure that the College effort in DEI is both meaningful and sustainable, it is critical that a leadership infrastructure is created to oversee and maintain the focus. Across our community, efforts that further DEI should be expected, considered at times of hiring and promotion, and rewarded.

Recommendations:

  1. Define and deploy a mission statement for the College that includes a clear declaration in our belief in the power and necessity of DEI as a competitive advantage. This includes a statement of commitment affirming our intent to leverage DEI to ensure that innovation, entrepreneurship, and public service are fundamental characteristics of our graduates as a part of our guiding core principles and values.
  2. Examine our current leadership structure to determine whether a senior leadership position and/or standing committee(s) should be created to better foster, coordinate, and monitor our efforts in DEI and to continue the conversation started in our strategic planning efforts with various subgroups in our community. Examine current units and structures (e.g. CEDO, Office of Student Affairs, Office of Graduate Education) to determine and optimize approach, responsibilities and accountabilities for DEI-related activities.
  3. When hiring and promoting instructional faculty, research scientists, and staff, and when appointing individuals to leadership positions, consider whether the individual has already, or has the potential to, positively affect the inclusiveness of our community as an important criterion.
  4. Provide legal incentives to chairs, departments, faculty and staff to foster DEI.
  5. Create transparency and engagement with our community by developing opportunities, e.g. outside speakers, student forums, or in concert with the “DEI state of the college” report by the dean, to engage in discussion of DEI throughout the year. Communicate information about our DEI initiatives broadly via our website.

The next five objectives are essential to creating our future state. They leverage the foundational objectives to deliver key outcomes.

Build communities and creative learning spaces by leveraging and transforming the use of space within the College to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports students, postdoctoral fellows, instructional and research faculty, and staff.

Finding: Space is a valuable resource, and the way we choose to use that space reflects our priorities and commitments. Space has a tremendous impact on the learning environment within the College. Effective use of space can create natural learning communities that invite intercultural engagement and/or provide “safe havens” for groups to come together and feel included and supported. In many instances, however, current space designs do not facilitate this purpose. Unlike central campus, for example, we have no central gathering place for north campus activities and student groups. Where possible, we should examine how to design, redesign, or repurpose space to be more welcoming and inclusive.

Recommendations:

  1. Explore possible avenues for creating a major community space that invites students to come together academically and socially.
  2. Review our current spaces for their inclusiveness, including consideration of location, function, and artwork/photos. Assess our facilities to determine other areas for improvement, e.g. for those with disabilities, for breastfeeding mothers, and for those who desire gender neutral restrooms, and work to meet those needs.
  3. Engage relevant campus units, e.g. Spectrum Center, Services for Students with Disabilities, Program for Intergroup Relations, and Trotter Multicultural Center, to explore ways in which they could develop or enhance their presence on North Campus.
  4. Make available and improve study areas for student communities. Particularly urgent needs include space for ENGR 101 and EECS 183, and spaces for Master’s students.

Develop talented and diverse college leadership, departmental leadership, and instructional and research faculty capable of providing a world class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student body. Our five-year objective is to develop a diverse instructional faculty with year-over-year increases in the percentage gender and URM representation.

Finding: Despite our solid efforts, our instructional faculty (~20% female, ~5% URM) are not as diverse as we would like. Although the fraction of female faculty has been slowly growing, it has been particularly difficult to increase the fraction of URM faculty. Similar statements can be made about research faculty and lecturers. Multiple mechanisms must be used to understand and address the various issues that have led to an insufficiently diverse faculty so that we can make substantial progress on improving faculty diversity.

Recommendations:

  1. Increase the fraction of instructional faculty who have attended Faculty Recruitment (STRIDE) workshops. Discuss, review, and share strategies and best practices for faculty hiring at chair’s meetings, faculty meetings, and search committee meetings.
  2. Continue offering the NextProf workshop to attract underrepresented and female graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to academia, and potentially to the University of Michigan. Improve advertising of the workshop, communication with departments, tracking of previous attendees, and communication with previous attendees so that departments can make better use of this resource as one means of attracting excellent and diverse applicants for Michigan Engineering faculty positions.
  3. Make increased use of the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to recruit outstanding fellows whose research, teaching and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education, and mentor them to be competitive faculty applicants.
  4. Consider our own graduates and postdoctoral scholars as faculty candidates.
  5. Review the associate-to-full promotion pathway to identify and address differences in timing and success among demographic groups.
  6. Provide career and leadership development opportunities for research and instructional faculty. The Faculty Fellows Program, which was piloted in 2014-2015, is one potential mechanism. Workshops such as Faculty Leading Change, coaching, and mentoring are also important mechanisms to consider.
  7. Encourage and support departments and department chairs in creating an environment that is conducive to increasing the diversity of their instructional and research faculty.

Recruit, develop, and graduate a talented and diverse body of students and postdoctoral researchers with the academic and multicultural skills to engineer solutions to tomorrow’s global challenges. Our five-year objective is achieve year-over-year increases in percentage of female and URM enrollment while reaching and maintaining parity on academic performance (GPA) and retention-to-graduation.

Finding: Despite a concerted effort in outreach and proactive recruiting, our student body is not sufficiently diverse. A number of critical issues faced by undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars were identified. In terms of demographics, the enrollment numbers for many groups are significantly below that of the general population of the State of Michigan and the United States, for example. Female student enrollment across undergraduate and graduate populations is at the mid-20% level. URM enrollment is ~11%, though students explained that this calculation, which is a percent of domestic students, is misleading: because of the significant number of international students, especially at the graduate level, the minority student enrollment “feels” much lower. Many URM students have solo status in their classes. We have not reached critical mass for URM students, and only reach critical mass for women in some departments.

The academic achievements (e.g. graduation rates, grade point average) for some groups (URMs, low socioeconomic status) are significantly below those of the average student population. The lack of critical mass strongly impacts the climate for women, URM students, those with low socioeconomic status and other minority groups. Finally, engineering students currently operate within a particular culture that is not as inclusive as it could be. These issues affect all students, and mean that for some students Michigan Engineering is not a place where they feel welcomed and can thrive.

Recommendations:

  1. Expand successful models that provide student support, boost academic achievement, and enhance student climate. These include: Michigan STEM Academy (M-STEM M-Engin), Women in Science & Engineering Residential Program (WISE-RP), Michigan Engineering Transfer Support (METS) Program, and Community Grants. M-STEM M-Engin has successfully nurtured over 400 engineering students in diverse cohorts, maximizing the academic, personal, and professional success of students. The program spans the first two years and includes a pre-freshman 6-week summer transition program, customized advising, career guidance, learning enrichment activities, and assistance in obtaining a paid professional summer internship or research opportunity. The WISE-RP recruits, supports, and retains a diverse population of students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by linking students with resources and opportunities that will support their academic and personal pursuits. The METS program is designed to facilitate the adjustment of transfer students to the Michigan academic environment while minimizing the impact of “transfer shock” on first transfer semester grades. Community grants support staff, student or faculty-led proposals to host a workshop, event, etc. to improve promote a sense of community for students.
  2. Institute an annual review of our K-12 pipeline and outreach efforts to evaluate the return on investment so that we can best utilize our resources. This would include the Summer Engineering Academy programs for 9th, 10th and 11th graders and the Michigan Engineering Zone.
  3. Increase partnerships with pipeline schools (both undergraduate and graduate), community colleges, and national organizations. Build new dual-degree partnerships with minority-serving institutions, using Atlanta University Complex Consortium-Dual Degree Engineering Program (AUCC-DDEP) as a model.
  4. Increase the number of undergraduate and Master’s student scholarships and funding for student co-curricular experiences.
  5. Establish a Bridge-to-the-Doctorate Program for Master’s students, in partnership with Rackham (and including Rackham Merit Fellowship criteria). We are currently recruiting students for this program, to launch in Fall 2016 with approximately 20 students.

Recruit, retain, and develop a talented and diverse staff capable of supporting a world class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student and faculty population.

Finding: While many of our staff members have direct interaction with student and/or faculty communities, they often have not had the training, skills and experiences to work effectively across DEI dimensions. Some question the necessity of spending time on DEI issues. It is important to provide DEI learning experiences for our staff in order to develop their understanding and skills. Internally, while staff demographics overall are reasonably diverse, for example, as compared to the demographics of Southeast Michigan, demographics in particular staff job categories are not as egalitarian and point to a continuing need to reach out to potential job applicants to diversify our applicant pools.

Recommendations:

  1. Explicitly integrate staff into the College recommendations regarding DEI training, metrics, and structure. Reliably communicate to staff our efforts in these areas and how they impact staff as well as faculty and students.
  2. Integrate considerations of how staff can or have contributed, through their professional experience, to DEI into staff hiring, performance reviews, and awards.

Design and develop resources and opportunities for engagement and interaction that facilitate a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for students.

Finding: We heard from students that the classroom, research group, and team project environments can be difficult to navigate when there are cultural differences among students, between students and faculty, and between students and GSIs. While the conceptual understanding gained from the efforts in Recommendation 1 will be useful, the particular application of these concepts to the learning and research environment is equally important to support.

Recommendations:

  1. Expand resources and instruction on the topic of inclusive teaching for instructional faculty and GSIs in the college.
  2. Increase the fraction of faculty who have attended Rackham’s MORE (“Mentoring Others Results in Excellence”) workshop. Develop other ally training opportunities for faculty, e.g. in concert with Rackham or the ADVANCE Program.
  3. Develop and expand the offerings of Insitu: Center for Socially Engaged Design, which teach students across U-M to design for the full range of social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors that influence the success of technology adoption. The training here, while focused on product design for users well outside of the university, incorporates the development of skills to communicate across cultures.

Strategic Objectives: Key Findings & Recommendations (for the University) top

Through our analyses and discussions, additional concerns were identified that are best addressed more centrally. We recommend the following initiatives to be pursued at the University level:

Increase the number of President’s Postdoctoral Fellows.

Finding: This relatively new program has attracted 12 excellent postdoctoral fellows to UM whose research, teaching and service contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education. Seven have accepted assistant professor positions at UM, and 4 are still completing their fellowships. An increase in the capacity of the program could further impact postdoctoral scholar and ultimately faculty diversity.

Provide additional scholarship funds for out-of-state students.

Finding: The significant tuition differential for students who are not Michigan residents prevents many from being able to attend; instead they remain in their home state. By removing or lowering this financial hurdle, the University would increase the matriculation rates for admitted students.

Improve the availability of and access to childcare.

Finding: At the President’s Advisory Committee on Faculty Diversity meeting on April 20, 2015, the ADVANCE Program presented data on faculty childcare needs. At that time, there were 124 faculty and 245 other university personnel (staff, students, postdocs) on the waitlist for UMCC infant care slots. Engineering faculty, voicing their concerns as part of the Michigan Engineering Advisory Board for ADVANCE and within an ad hoc committee assembled by ADVANCE, have had great difficulty finding infant slots in child care centers and also have had marginal success with Kids Kare at Home as back up care for sick children due to the limited number of caregivers. We believe that addressing the issue of child care, especially infant care, will be a critical piece of our ability to recruit and retain faculty in engineering, and will also, albeit to a lesser extent, aid in recruiting and retaining students, postdoctoral scholars, lecturers, research scientists, and staff.

Expand facilities to accommodate alternative examination needs for some specific student disabilities.

Finding: As the population of students with disabilities increases, and the availability of classroom or conference room space during critical hours has dwindled, it has become difficult for faculty to accommodate these student needs. Michigan Engineering is interested in working with other units, and with Provost office support, to either expand the current testing facility on Central Campus or to establish a facility on North Campus.

Develop UM Career Path Training and Tools.

Finding: The current career path navigator and job posting rules are not sufficient to allow for staff to make informed decisions about career changes/upward growth. Salary ranges are not currently required on all postings. Without ranges, it is difficult for staff to determine if the position is considered to be higher level and a promotional opportunity. We recommend posting of salary ranges for all positions. In addition, development of training and certification modules for not only internal staff but also for those interested in applying for UM staff positions could improve the quality and potentially the diversity of our applicant pools.

Coordinate our relationships with partner institutions across campus.

Finding: We often hope to interact with partner institutions, identifying institutions that, for example, have a vibrant master’s program but few research opportunities or Ph.D. programs. Leveraging the strengths of UM and partners can increase the educational opportunities for a diverse population of students. When we identify a possible partner institution, e.g. a minority-serving institution or community college, it is difficult to know whether there is an historical relationship with this institution, whether others on campus are already interacting with the institution, or who appropriate contacts at the institution might be. It would be helpful to have a central office that tracks, assists and manages these relationships, so that information is not lost when personnel move on.

Build a North Campus Multicultural Center/Space to serve the collective communities of the four schools housed on North Campus: Michigan Engineering, College of Music, Theatre and Dance, School of Art and Design, College of Architecture, and Urban Planning.

Finding: In our Recommendation 4, we point out the need for inclusive spaces in engineering. A further need is for a facility that provides services and a supportive environment for all students on north campus, regardless of college/school, to develop a better understanding and appreciation for the multicultural diversity represented at the University. Such a center could serve as a vibrant hub for students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, community members, campus visitors, and student organizations and play a role similar to the Trotter Multicultural Center on central campus.

Create the position of staff ombudsman for the campus.

Finding: Unlike faculty and students, staff currently have no confidential resource for resolving difficult issues and acting as a voice to senior administration. We recommend the creation of a staff Ombuds office where staff questions, complaints and concerns can be discussed confidentially in a safe environment. This office would offer informal dispute resolution services, provides resources and referrals, and help staff members consider options available to them. The office would operate independently as a supplement to existing administrative and formal dispute resolution processes and would have no formal decision-making authority.

Support the cross-unit initiative (led by LS&A, Medical School and Engineering): “Growing STEM: Pipelines, Collaborations and Pedagogies for Diversity & Inclusion at Michigan.”

Finding: Growing STEM: Pipelines, Collaborations and Pedagogies for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan” – a new collaboration at the University of Michigan – is a response to the disparities present at almost every level of STEM education. Faculty and leadership from the College of LSA, the Medical School and Michigan Engineering have come together to build a sustainable and strong “pipeline,” including for underrepresented minority and women, into STEM fields. This pipeline would encompass: pre-college outreach, recruitment and admission; first and second year undergraduate STEM education and retention into STEM majors; preparation and mentorship for undergraduate students into graduate and professional programs. Ideally, this pipeline would encompass all stages from K12 outreach through graduate and professional schools, postdoctoral fellowships and entrance into careers. The Growing STEM collaboration is open to all interested individuals, programs, schools and colleges at U-M.

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