The University of Michigan is set to begin a multifaceted, years-long project to study, document, and better understand the university’s history with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion — with the history of race and racism as its first major focus.
“As our country undergoes a long-overdue reckoning about race and the treatment of African Americans and people of color, it is critical for the university to also hold up a mirror to itself. Our history is remarkable yet also flawed,” said Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. “With the Inclusive History Project, we pledge to develop a more truthful and inclusive narrative about our institution’s past. Only then can we move forward as a genuinely equitable community that acknowledges and celebrates all its members.”
Two leading university scholars will chair the first phase of the project: Elizabeth Cole, professor of women’s and gender studies, psychology, and Afroamerican and African studies; and Earl Lewis, the Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies and Public Policy.
“Deep engagement with our internal and extended external communities, such as the African American community in Detroit, Native American tribes in Michigan, and multiple generations of alumni and staff families, is fundamental to a fuller understanding of our past and the contemporary effects of our history,” said Professor Lewis.
“For years, the University of Michigan has been engaged in efforts to help us become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” said Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion, chief diversity officer, and professor of education and psychology. “Having a more inclusive understanding of our history is foundational to building a more inclusive present and future for the university.”