Celebrating diversity with Rob Sellers, U-M’s chief diversity officer
Headlines is culminating Black History Month with a Q&A featuring U-M Chief Diversity Officer Rob Sellers, Ph.D.
Sellers provides some perspective about ongoing initiatives, as outlined in the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plan, and the future of DE&I at Michigan Medicine. Read on for more.
Q: You have now been the university’s chief diversity officer for about four months. What has been the most gratifying part of your tenure so far?
RS: After being named CDO, I felt like it was a culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people that started long before I was in this position, including the efforts of my predecessors, Chuck Moody and Lester Monts. Not only is this role a great responsibility, it’s incredibly gratifying to try to do everything I possibly can to help move us forward with respect to our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals that will make U-M a better place for everyone. In doing so, I hope to build on the legacy of a number of untold staff, students, administrators, and faculty to help the university live up to its considerable potential.
Q: Looking to the future, what sort of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives are on the horizon at U-M?
RS: I’m incredibly proud of the DE&I initiatives happening across the university, including those from the 49 unit plans. While we have numerous initiatives that will launch throughout the year, beginning this spring, we’ll begin offering grants that are supported by a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Innovation Fund. This fund was created in an effort to support new and innovative ideas that promote, enhance, and celebrate DE&I values. I encourage all faculty, staff, and students to participate in this ongoing effort to improve our DE&I efforts at the university.
Q: How can university students, faculty and staff help you in these efforts?
RS: I believe the more perspectives we have involved in this process, the more successful we’re going to be. Utilizing resources such as diversity.umich.edu, attending university events and connecting with dedicated DE&I professionals or designated staff in your respective schools are excellent ways to be involved with the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across the university. Go to the website to find out who is the plan implementation lead for your unit and connect with your lead to see if there is a way for you to get involved in your local plan.
Q: How do you see your role on campus intersecting with the diversity programs here at Michigan Medicine?
RS: Many of the goals and initiatives outlined in the Michigan Medicine plan are in direct alignment of activities that are happening at the universitywide level — including the recruitment of a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, and fostering an inclusive and equitable community. In addition, Michigan Medicine has a unique mandate to serve our patient populations in ways that are consistent with our DE&I values. The Office of Health Equity and Inclusion has been working very hard with all facets of the Michigan Medicine team to make sure that all of our patients receive the highest standard of care and that everyone on the Michigan Medicine team has an opportunity to thrive and contribute professionally.