Since its founding in 2005, the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) has symbolized a scholarly commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in higher education and, by extension, society. The early 2000s saw challenges to the University of Michigan (U-M)’s long-standing practice of Affirmative Action in its admissions process. After the passage of Proposal 2 effectively outlawed the use of Affirmative Action, U-M established the NCID in order to affirm its commitment to DE&I. 12 years later, the NCID continues to advance its original charge via the production, catalyzation, and elevation of diversity research and scholarship. In this pursuit, we also build intergenerational communities of scholars and leaders to integrate these evidence-based approaches in addressing contemporary issues in a diverse society.
There is no denying that social inequalities exist that serve as barriers to full opportunity and inclusion for all. These inequalities occur at both the macro level, reflected by institutional structures, policies, practices, and norms; and at the micro level, reflected by persistent intergroup divisions, as well as interpersonal discrimination and microaggressions. Among other systemic issues of access and equity in our society, black people face a disproportionate amount of police violence, simply being Latinx is a social determinant of health in the context of immigration enforcement, gender and racial barriers to success in STEM persist, and faculty of color remain underrepresented in academia. At the same time that these measurable and well-documented issues exist, we’re experiencing a societal climate that often discourages critical analysis and attention to scholarly evidence as a basis of decision making and action.
One current challenge involves encouraging and supporting societal citizens and stakeholders in recognizing the added value of rigorous scholarship, because this type of evidence helps us understand — and more importantly address and improve — issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, it is equally important that we continue to elevate and support the development of diversity research and scholarship, which represents the core of our center’s mission, priorities, and activities.
At NCID, we work to achieve our mission through developing and engaging with local and global networks. Within our local community, we’ve been working to more effectively leverage the vast and deep diversity expertise on the U-M campus, by connecting U-M scholars across disciplines and units in ways that can help advance their scholarly goals, promote innovative, interdisciplinary connections and collaborations, as well as support their professional and personal identities as scholars.
In the global context, our U-M community of diversity scholars is part of our larger Diversity Scholars Network consisting of over 600 members from around the world. Our established NCID Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is designed to provide an intellectually rich environment to early career diversity scholars from all over the world, and our NCID fellows have gone on to faculty and research positions at U-M and across the nation. Our newer partnership with U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts on the Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program recruits scholars worldwide with demonstrated commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their scholarship, teaching and mentoring, and/or their service and engagement — with the ultimate goal of gaining tenure-track positions at U-M. We are thrilled to welcome our first Collegiate Fellows cohort this fall.
In efforts to promote and catalyze diversity scholarship production include, we developed a new grants program, Grants to Support Research and Scholarship for Change, which were awarded to several U-M research teams in the past year. We’re pleased to have opened up the program application for another pool of applicants. Additionally, we recently launched the NCID Pop-Up Research & Scholarship Grants program, which provide opportunities for scholars nationwide to produce and/or synthesize scholarly findings around emerging or re-emerging social issues relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to disseminate these findings to the public in timely ways.
A final example is our efforts to elevate and recognize outstanding contributions to diversity scholarship by U-M scholars through establishing a new Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award. The inaugural recipient of this honor is James S. Jackson, Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, and Research Professor at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research.
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Tabbye M. Chavous, PhD
Director, National Center for Institutional Diversity
Co-Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context
Professor of Education and Psychology, University of Michigan