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Notes from the Dean

November 21, 2016

 

Dear LSA Community,

This is a challenging time at the University of Michigan, as it is in our nation. The presidential campaign, combined with other events, has revealed how divided we are as a country, and how challenging it has become just to conduct a strong but civil conversation about our direction. As a public university, one of our roles is to help our students learn to lead these conversations. 

In the aftermath of the election, members of U-M’s community experienced several types of emotion. Many were devastated by the election of Donald Trump and the fact their candidate lost. Others were euphoric. Many students had a difficult time getting back to work after a long night of watching the returns.

And many awoke feeling unsafe on their own campus. Given recent incidents—especially the hatred and bigotry expressed through racist flyers and on social media, chalkings on the Diag, and even by physical assaults—and the hostile tone of the presidential campaign, minority students in particular felt vulnerable.

Many Trump voters and conservatives also felt ignored or scorned. Some of them were verbally attacked and threatened. I know that many of them feel as if the institution has not lived up to its ideals of open debate—that their views are not appreciated and that their conservative values are unfairly conflated with bigotry and white supremacy, and that they, too, feel they don’t have a home on this campus.

Let me be very clear: All students are welcome here, regardless of how they voted, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, socioeconomic status, immigration status, or politics. And let me also be clear that we will do everything we can to ensure all our students' safety. (You can find a list of campus safety resources here.) Finally, our expectation is that classes will continue, and that faculty can and should be flexible—as they always are—in helping students be successful.

While we believe it is counter to a democracy to shield students from uncomfortable or challenging ideas, racism, sexism, bigotry, and religious intolerance are not consistent with our ideals, and where we see them we need to repudiate them, firmly but without violence.

The nature of politics is that there are winners and losers. But as a nation we’re at our best when we move past the contest and work together to get things done.

The election leaves us with significant challenges. How we respond will be a test for our community and our country.

At a post-election forum hosted by LSA, I saw firsthand that our students are rising to this challenge. A diverse group of some 150 students from all walks of life and across the political divide came to the LSA building to engage in a robust, civil conversation about their experiences of the past months, their hopes for the future, and concrete ways that we can move forward together as a campus community and a nation. These students are not fragile; they are not complainers. Rather, they set an example for all of us with their intelligence and willingness to engage across differences.

Having heard from these students, I am more optimistic than ever that we will meet the challenges before us, and that together we'll create a positive path forward. They made me proud and grateful to be part of the University of Michigan community and an American.

Best,

Andrew D. Martin, Dean
Professor of Political Science and Statistics
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

 

August 29, 2016

 

Dear LSA Community,

As our nation has continued to struggle with yet another wave of racial violence and tensions between police and minority communities, I want you to know that our extended community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, family, and loved ones has been very much in my thoughts. I was especially concerned about our students on campus this past summer struggling to complete classes, pre-college programs, and orientation sessions at a time of national grief and, for many of us, personal anguish. The events of the past few months have given us a renewed sense of urgency about addressing the challenges of living, working, and studying together in a diverse society riddled with inequalities and injustices.

On our own campus, President Schlissel has charged the entire university community to undertake a strategic planning process around the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Since then, LSA has been engaged in this important process and I am pleased to announce that we have completed a draft plan, which we have shared with the President and executive officers.

We would like to encourage you to review the draft plan and provide additional comments and feedback, which we will consider as part of the continued implementation and planning process. To make the review process easier, you can access the College’s plan through Google Drive. The plan you will find at this link is a pdf working draft for the LSA community’s consideration and input.

The plan reflects input and ideas from many of you who stood up and participated in opportunities like the Staff Administrative Forum, the Faculty Diversity Task Force, the Student DEI Plan-A-Thon, theDiversity Census, and the Race and Ethnicity Requirement Review Committee, among others.

The key themes that were identified as a result of this process include: improving the climate for faculty recruitment and retention; increasing undergraduate student access; building inclusive classrooms and pedagogy by assessing the Race and Ethnicity degree requirement and improving STEM education; leveraging undergraduate education initiatives such as the Comprehensive Studies Program and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program; expanding graduate student recruitment, training, and support; and advancing staff hiring practices and professional development.

By design, our planning process includes the flexibility to accommodate new information and emerging opportunities. It is built to be adaptable when it encounters reality. Over the next five years we will update our plan on a continuous cycle of planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving. The process depends on regular feedback, input, and ideas from each of you. We need your participation.

Please submit comments by email to LSA-DEI-Feedback@umich.edu. And please stay tuned for additional information on the four Community Forums the College will be hosting in September.

The plan will officially be made public this coming fall, along with the University’s overall Diversity,Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan. We will let you know once specific details have been finalized.

Thank you for your continued engagement in this important process. If you have questions, please visit the LSA diversity, equity, and inclusion website where you can find more information, provide feedback on the draft plan, and see a list of contacts.

Best,

Andrew D. Martin, Dean
Professor of Political Science and Statistics
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

 

April 14, 2016

 

Dear LSA Community,

As we move forward in our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has participated so far. As you know, LSA planning teams have been working to craft the College’s portion of the University-wide strategic plan led by President Schlissel.

A commitment to academic excellence and the integrated value of a liberal arts education will always be a cornerstone of LSA. Upon that solid foundation, throughout decades, we have built the greatest public liberal arts college in the nation—an institution that endeavors to mirror the full diversity of the society we seek to challenge and improve.

Over the last four months we have had frank discussions about diversity and inclusion with all constituencies, from students to faculty to staff, and your feedback helped us to engineer a strong draft plan for the College. This document was submitted to the central administration last week and will next go through their review process. Your astute observations and ideas for improvement are reflected directly in the proposals within our plan. And I thank you for that. Our work is not complete though, we will need more discussion, more input, and more data to make this planning draft a reality.

To this end, we will be reviewing the draft within the College, starting with those who provided input. We are also engaging University administrators to review the plan as their feedback will help shape diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts campus-wide. We hope to obtain University approval this summer with more community involvement and implementation scheduled for fall.

The structure of our plan was built carefully around the following pillars of thought: an overarching climate of intercultural understanding focused on student access and inclusive classrooms and pedagogy, with specific efforts aimed at the four LSA audiences of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and staff.

Over the summer and early fall we will hold additional focus groups, forums, and events to further engage the LSA community in our discussion of diversity. We will continue to rely on your input as we finalize the strategic plan—we can’t build this strategic effort without you. As we obtain University approval for our strategy, we will be solidifying plans for another round of listening throughout the College. We will be posting specific event details on our website and the University DEI site. And as always, you can provide feedback any time through this email: LSA Diversity Feedback.

Best,

Andrew D. Martin, Dean
Professor of Political Science and Statistics
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

 

March 7, 2016

 

Dear Students and Colleagues,

I would like to thank the entire LSA community for your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the many discussions we’ve had with students, faculty, and staff on this subject. We had a successful two month listening period to start out the year, with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion events throughout. You will have seen my email that went out to faculty, staff, and students the second week of classes. I am writing now to give you an update on where the College stands with regard to the university-wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The events we held in January and February to solicit feedback from all audiences proved very effective. We listened as faculty, staff, and students gave us their viewpoint on this important initiative. And we were proud to read and consider the innovative student proposals that came out of Plan-A-Thon week.

Highlighted events:

January 14, 2016—LSA Administration Forum Staff DEI Presentation
January 22, 2016—#WhatIDidThen, #WhatIDoNow (MLK event)
January 25, 2016—Sharing Stories, Building Allyhood: Student Voices Against Islamophobia
January 28, 2016—#withDeanMartin
February 1–8, 2016—Student DEI Plan-A-Thon week w/two workshops
February 22, 2016—Faculty Panel on Diversity

Top ranking themes for improvement include:

LSA Environment
Faculty Retention
Student Access and Recruitment
HR policies and DEI training
Pedagogy and Curriculum

What’s ahead:

Over the next few weeks, the Dean’s Cabinet will finish drafting our five-year strategic plan to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at LSA. We are using the above themes as our guidelines. The plan will eventually be submitted to President Schlissel’s executive leadership team and incorporated into a comprehensive, university-wide plan to be implemented in September 2016.

For more information, please visit the LSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website. If you have questions or want to provide feedback, please email LSA Diversity Feedback.

Best,

Andrew D. Martin, Dean
Professor of Political Science and Statistics
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

 

January 12, 2016

 

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Welcome back. I hope that you enjoyed a pleasant and restful break that has energized you for the term to come. For the majority of you, that meant spending time at home, where so many of us feel our most valued, most welcome, and most secure. This is the same type of environment we are dedicated to fostering here on campus for all members of our Michigan family.

Safeguarding and enhancing diversity within the College has been one of my top priorities since becoming dean. A diverse campus is essential not only for excellence in scholarship and research, but also for preparing graduates to make connections and make a difference in the world at large. As LSA is the largest college in the University, we have been at the heart of Michigan’s longstanding commitment to these ideals. In that light, I am writing to update you on College initiatives relating to the university-wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Recent world events have highlighted the importance of these efforts. At Winter Commencement, President Schlissel discussed how terrorist attacks, particularly in Beirut, Paris, and San Bernardino, have contributed to “tensions in trying to balance our constitutional rights and shared values with our sense of safety, in our communities, on our campuses, and all the way to the level of national security.” He urged the U-M community to “elevate these important debates” and not to allow fear or ignorance to compromise our most important principles.

The following day, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) voted unanimously in favor of a resolution reaffirming support for the Muslim members of our community and to “unequivocally oppose and condemn all attempts to discriminate against, marginalize, or denigrate students, faculty, or staff on the basis of religious faith, national origin, or ethnic belonging.”

I wholeheartedly agree with President Schlissel’s sentiments and endorse the SACUA resolution. While LSA will always be a place for strong views and opposing viewpoints, it will never be one that suffers intolerance or contempt.

I invite you all to visit the new LSA web page dedicated to our efforts around the strategic plan. It includes information on upcoming LSA outreach events, links to resources and programs, and a timeline of plans and implementation. And I call on each of you to maintain a campus climate in which all students, faculty, and staff feel valued, welcome, and secure.

After all, as we spend this important time working among and learning from one another, LSA isn’t just a college—it’s our second home.

Best,

Andrew D. Martin, Dean
Professor of Political Science and Statistics
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts