President Schlissel lays out initiatives for U-M to tackle societal problems

October 6, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,
University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel's annual leadership breakfast.

Robert M. Sellers, currently vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs, was recommended by President Mark Schlissel for the newly created position of chief diversity officer.

Declaring the University of Michigan has “the talent to advance excellence and achieve impact at levels befitting both our legacy and our potential,” President Mark Schlissel on Wednesday outlined initiatives that target issues ranging from poverty to academic innovation, and from sustainability to diversity.

“These announcements align with my commitment to encourage scholarship that addresses major societal problems, using the full spectrum of our disciplinary breadth,” Schlissel told the invited crowd of nearly 200 faculty, staff and students gathered at the Michigan Union’s Rogel Ballroom for his annual Leadership Breakfast.

“They also include my pledge to help you provide all of our students with the best education possible, enhanced by high-impact, engaged learning experiences for undergraduates, graduate and professional students.”

Introducing his new initiatives, Schlissel said one of his primary responsibilities is to help everyone at the university achieve the lofty aspirations he has come to recognize in the more than two years that have passed since he became U-M’s 14th president.

“We are ready, as U-M’s first president, Henry Tappan, once said, to ‘carry’ this university ‘forward to perfection,'” he said. “This morning, I am proud to discuss a few of the ways we will do this together.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The president during Wednesday’s event offered a preview of what was delivered in greater detail this morning, when the university launched its campus-wide strategic plan to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

The plan, titled “Many Voices, Our Michigan,” incorporates individual plans drawn up over the past year by each school, college and major administrative unit, including UMHS. It provides overarching strategies in three key areas: creating an inclusive and equitable campus climate; recruiting, retaining and developing a diverse community; and supporting innovative and inclusive scholarship and teaching.

“I want our entire community to know that what we are unveiling is both a plan and a pledge,” Schlissel said. “It includes metrics, reporting schedules and measures of accountability — for me, and for all of us. It includes $85 million in new investments over five years that we consider crucial to our mission.”

To lead the implementation and evaluation of the DE&I strategic plan, Schlissel said he will recommend the Board of Regents at its October meeting approve Robert M. Sellers, currently vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs, for the newly created position of chief diversity officer.

There will be a number of events in celebration of the DE&I launch on Thursday and over the next few weeks. They are open to all university employees, including those across the health system. Click here for a full list of events and information on how to attend.

Other initiatives

On Wednesday, President Schlissel also outlined initiatives centered around developing new strategies to help prevent and alleviate poverty. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves with the goal of having an impact directly,” Schlissel said.

Finally, the president pointed to academic innovation, aiming for U-M to find the most effective ways of reaching students, and announced that U-M will create a new school focused on sustainability and the environment that will replace the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Check out The University Record for a complete recap of the president’s remarks.