In anticipation of the sweeping changes that would inevitably occur during implementation of the DEI Strategic Plan, the university appointed senior staff and faculty to key executive positions in order to assure strong, focused institutional leadership throughout the process. In addition, new infrastructure was established to provide ongoing administrative and operational support.
In the latter half of Year Four, ODEI leaders faced an unprecedented set of challenges as they navigated the dual and simultaneous tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide racial unrest, precipitated by a series of deaths resulting from police violence. Working on multiple fronts, they galvanized efforts to combat racism throughout the pandemic, being especially cognisant of the health inequities exposed by the disproportionately high death rate among Black Americans.
During this turbulent time, Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer (VPEI-CDO) Robert M. Sellers provided inspiring and strategic leadership both as a member of the campus community and as a driving force behind campuswide DEI activities. Through speeches, interviews, and multi-faceted community outreach efforts, he became a prominent voice for diversity, equity and inclusion – and anti-racism, working to expand awareness and awaken the public conscience. In response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, he published “How Long Must We Wait,” a widely cited op-ed piece which appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
As Deputy Chief Diversity Officer, Katrina Wade-Golden continued to provide crucial administrative leadership, facilitated plan implementation in all 50 units, and served as advisor to the over 100 DEI Implementation Leads across the university. In Year Four, while guiding continued progress in the current five-year plan, she worked closely with the Chief Diversity Officer and other campus executives to forge a proposal for the next instantiation of campuswide effort on diversity, equity and inclusion – or “DEI 2.0.” In response to COVID-19 and racial unrest, she increased communications and support to DEI Leads with virtual meetings and she also supervised publications such as a COVID-19 Resource Guide and an Anti-Racism Resource Guide prompted by xenophobic attacks against Asian-Americans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and national unrest in response to police brutality against Black Americans, underscoring the systemic, anti-Black racism pervasive in our society.
In her role as Chief Organizational Learning Officer (COLO), Sonya Jacobs continued to address DEI training needs campuswide, both as a senior director in University Human Resources and director of Faculty and Leadership Development for the University of Michigan Medical School and Michigan Medicine. As the first Chief Organizational Learning Officer at U-M, she is responsible for the creation of curricula and strategies aimed at building the capabilities of staff, managers, and leadership across the university. This includes the development of education, training, interventions, and leadership programs to further the university’s culture change initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion, civility and wellness, and mitigating sexual harassment and misconduct.
In Year Four, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion David J. Brown, MD, continued to lead the Michigan Medicine Office for Health Equity and Inclusion—directing pipeline programs, health equity research and other DEI initiatives. He also expanded the health system’s programming around the issues of health inequities and differentiated impact related to COVID-19.