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The University of Michigan (U-M) continues to be one of the leaders in diversifying academia, with a distinguished history of advancing equity and inclusion in higher education and society.


The University of Michigan's past president, Mary Sue Coleman, after learning of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the University's affirmative action policies in 2003. Source: Kellie Woodhouse, MLive.


Founding of NCID


This historic commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion has painted the history of the U-M and continues to influence how the University understands its own obligation to public service and how we invest in growing a better future for the University and society.

The National Center for Institutional Diversity was born out of the University's commitment to diversity, during a tumultuous time where the University's efforts to diversify our student body were seriously threatened by external interests. Prior to the 2000s, the University of Michigan had a long-standing affirmative action admissions policy, which used a formulaic approach to diversify the student body. But the 2003 cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger challenged U-M's affirmative action policies at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

While the Supreme Court upheld U-M's affirmative action admissions as constitutional and non-discriminatory, the University realized our efforts to diversify needed to expand to a national audience in order to protect the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. As we challenged the cases in court, the campus community immediately sprung into action to form a National Center for Institutional Diversity, mobilizing resources throughout the University and the nation to realize our commitment to diversity beyond expanding access to higher education. 

Beginning in 2005, the NCID opened our offices as a means of coalescing local and national efforts to diversify higher education and society, a mission that we continue to hold to this day. The NCID was tasked to form strategic networks and relationships; create and support initiatives that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion; and advance means of support for diverse faculty, staff, and students. Our multiple directors have each provided their own interpretation of these goals, which has laid a foundation for NCID to continuing impact scholarship and practice in higher education so that the University and institutions across the nation can realize a better system of higher education for everyone.

Despite this long history, the NCID believes our work is still only beginning: the challenges remaining are steep, but the successes we've seen are incredible, and we're excited to continue to be a national leader in the effort to diversify higher education and society.