Michigan Engineering has demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). During the DEI 1.0 (2016-2021) planning and implementation process, Michigan Engineering responded to the need for a more inclusive campus environment and provided DEI-specific tools and strategies for the engineering community. During the college-wide overall strategic planning process (Michigan Engineering 2020), we articulated three pillars of excellence – research, education and culture – pushing ourselves to be innovative, daring and forward-thinking in our service to society. The articulation of and adherence to these core values guided leadership decision-making. Our focus on the culture pillar during the Michigan Engineering 2020 strategic planning and implementation process played an integral role in centering culture in the DEI 1.0 strategic plan.
Our first five-year DEI strategic plan provided a vision for Michigan Engineering to distinguish itself by becoming a “best-in-class” institution for developing engineers who excel as multicultural technologists and leaders. We define multicultural technologists and leaders as intellectually and socially engaged, culturally competent, and rapidly connected to resources, each other, the community and the world. In order to achieve this mission, Michigan Engineering’s DEI 1.0 Plan consisted of three goals and eight objectives.
The DEI 1.0 goals were:
- Promote broad diversity at all levels (faculty, staff and students)
- Treat everyone equitably
- Create and maintain a climate of inclusion
The DEI 1.0 objectives with success indicators
- Increase the understanding and application of DEI concepts to build skills and provide learning experiences to effectively and constructively engage in dialogue on DEI-related topics across our community – Success
- Build a robust and complete set of metrics with an established standardized methodology for the continuous collection and monitoring of information (data) relevant to the reporting and evaluation of DEI-related issues within Michigan Engineering – In progress
- Build mechanisms, including leadership accountability and reward systems, to bring a “constancy of purpose” in focusing on DEI-related issues and opportunities within Michigan Engineering – Success
- Build communities and creative learning spaces by leveraging and transforming the use of space within Michigan Engineering to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports students, postdoctoral researchers, instructional and research faculty, and staff – In progress
- Develop talented and diverse college leadership, departmental leadership, and instructional and research faculty capable of providing a world-class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student body. Our five-year objective is to develop a diverse instructional faculty with year-over-year increases in the percentage of gender and underrepresented minority (URM) representation – In progress
- Recruit, develop, and graduate a talented and diverse body of students and postdoctoral researchers with the academic and multicultural skills to engineer solutions to tomorrow’s global challenges. Our five-year objective is to achieve year-over-year increases in the percentage of female and URM enrollment while reaching and maintaining parity on academic performance (GPA) and retention-to-graduation – Success
- Recruit, retain, and develop a talented and diverse staff capable of supporting a world-class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student and faculty population – Success
- Design and develop resources and opportunities for engagement and interaction that facilitate a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for students – Success
The following information highlights Michigan Engineering’s progress and outcomes in accomplishing these objectives.
S01: Increase the understanding and application of DEI concepts to build skills and provide learning experiences to effectively and constructively engage in dialogue on DEI-related topics across our community (Success).
Michigan Engineering has made significant progress toward increasing the understanding and application of DEI concepts through developing DEI facilitator capability, creating DEI trainings, and excelling in communicating our progress. Examples of our major programming and progress include:
- Change It Up – Anti-Black Racism Bystander Intervention Training (CiU-ABR) – Since its launch in 2020, Michigan Engineering has held 206 workshops and 2,967 faculty, staff, and students participated in the CiU-ABR training. Participants learned various strategies to become an active bystander, and facilitators became anti-racism allies in their spheres of influence, actively modeling appropriate responses to inappropriate behaviors.
- DEI Lecture Series – Michigan Engineering sponsors events throughout the year that cover a variety of topics related to DEI. Thought leaders present data, perspectives and context to issues surrounding DEI in academia and beyond. These events are well attended with an average of 100 participants for each lecture.
- Inclusive Teaching – 100% of Michigan Engineering’s new instructors are trained in inclusive teaching practices, contributing to an environment of success for students from all backgrounds. Beginning in 2016, CRLT-Engin expanded this offering by adding dedicated sessions that focus on inclusive teaching practices at all new instructor orientations. New instructors engaged in discussions on social identities and how classroom climate impacts teaching and learning.
- Faculty Learning Communities – From 2017-2021, Michigan Engineering’s CRLT-Engin has led four faculty learning communities focused on inclusive teaching, with nearly 60 faculty participants. These programs were designed to impact faculty perceptions and understanding of the literature on inclusive teaching and learning as well as empower them to institute best practices in their own classrooms and labs.
- DEI Lecturers – Michigan Engineering hired two lecturers with DEI expertise and experience, whose service was devoted to college-wide DEI efforts. These lecturers led the establishment of best practices for inclusive teaching, including gathering DEI-related curricula and disseminating these practices and curricula to instructors across Michigan Engineering. They also focused on developing and coordinating DEI-related metrics related to faculty, staff and students, covering all areas of the DEI strategic plan.
- Strategic DEI Communications – The Michigan Engineering DEI website is updated biannually to align with the revamping of the DEI communications and marketing strategy. Additionally, Communications and Marketing (C&M) developed an email newsletter and website content to highlight DEI activities and to share updates on our progress. Michigan Engineering’s C&M team was recognized with a CASE Grand Gold award for Circle of Excellence in the category of Communications, Advocacy/Issue Campaigns for this work.
S02: Build a robust and complete set of metrics with an established standardized methodology for the continuous collection and monitoring of information (data) relevant to the reporting and evaluation of DEI-related issues within Michigan Engineering (In progress).
Michigan Engineering continues to explore intentional practices of teaching and research that emerged as a result of comprehensive evaluation and assessment and continues to integrate feedback provided by faculty, staff, and students. This strategic objective will be a particular focus in DEI 2.0 as there is a need to build a robust and complete set of metrics with an established standardized methodology for the continuous collection and monitoring of information relevant to the reporting and evaluation of DEI-related issues. Examples of metrics, reporting, and evaluation include:
- DEI Activities Tracker – Michigan Engineering established a tracker with metrics for DEI departmental activities. The DEI Tracker includes the outcomes of our major initiatives on a yearly basis by the DEI Faculty Department Leads.
- DEI Metrics Dashboard – Michigan Engineering’s DEI Metrics Dashboard tracks undergraduate, and graduate enrollment trends, enrollment and degree indicators, and graduation rates. These data can be disaggregated by gender, enrollment level, and other demographics to assist in monitoring progress toward DEI objectives.
- 2017 & 2021 Climate Survey – Michigan Engineering completed the university-wide climate survey conducted by SoundRocket. The climate survey included questions asking respondents if they felt they belonged/were valued and if they were satisfied with Michigan Engineering’s climate. The climate survey results were also used as a platform for engagement for all members of the Michigan Engineering Community.
- Comparatively, between 2017-2021, students’ satisfaction with the U-M campus climate increased.
- Comparatively, between 2017-2021, faculty’s satisfaction with the climate at Michigan Engineering increased.
- Comparatively, between 2017-2021, faculty, staff, and students felt an increased sense of being valued as an individual in their department/unit, and felt an increased sense of belonging and commitment to DEI.
S03: Build mechanisms, including leadership accountability and reward systems, to bring a
“constancy of purpose” in focusing on DEI-related issues and opportunities within Michigan Engineering (Success).
Michigan Engineering has built mechanisms for faculty and staff to bring a “constancy of purpose” in focusing on DEI-related issues and opportunities. We created support infrastructures at both the leadership and faculty levels to support the work toward achieving the vision of the strategic plan. Key mechanisms and programs implemented include:
- Michigan Engineering Implementation Committee – The purpose of the DEI Implementation Committee was to implement the DEI 1.0 strategic plan and monitor progress. The Implementation Committee created funding opportunities for faculty and student groups interested in DEI programming, training programs, and evaluation efforts.
- Faculty Director of DEI & Faculty DEI Department Leads – Michigan Engineering appointed our first Faculty Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at the beginning of 2019 as well as created the faculty DEI Department Leads committee. This group consists of representatives from the 14 academic departments, and they meet monthly with the Faculty Director to work across academic departments to create and maintain a climate of inclusion.
- DEI Faculty Grants – Since 2020, Michigan Engineering has awarded faculty with grants to lead activities that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. In total, this funding has supported over 25 projects totaling in excess of $107,150.
- DEI Faculty Awards – The Raymond J. and Monica E. Schultz Outreach and Diversity Award honors a faculty member with a deep and sustained commitment to outreach and diversity as an important part of the University’s educational mission as demonstrated by academic and outreach programs that show intellectual excellence and diversity in service, teaching, and scholarship. The recipient of the award receives a one-time award of $4,000.
- Unconscious Bias – Michigan Engineering requires all hiring committee members to have completed unconscious bias training.
S04: Build communities and creative learning spaces by leveraging and transforming the use of space within Michigan Engineering to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports students, postdoctoral fellows, instructional and research faculty, and staff (In progress).
Michigan Engineering has identified that space is a valuable resource, and the way we choose to use that space reflects our priorities and commitments. Space has a tremendous impact on the learning environment within Michigan Engineering. Effective use of space can create natural learning communities that invite intercultural engagement and/or provide “safe havens” for groups to come together and feel included and supported. In many instances, however, current space designs do not facilitate this purpose. Where possible, we should examine how to design, redesign, or repurpose space to be more welcoming and inclusive. This strategic objective will continue to be a focus in the next DEI strategic plan (DEI 2.0). Space renovations and updates include:
- North Campus Space Update – Michigan Engineering’s staff DEI Committee helped bring reflection rooms, gender-neutral restrooms, and lactation rooms to buildings on North Campus.
- New Biomedical Engineering Spaces – In the Fall of 2019, Michigan Engineering announced that the first floor of the LBME building would receive 12,000 square feet, $5 million dollar renovation that would reinvent and redesign the BME Design Spaces with a focus on experiential teaching and learning.
S05: Develop talented and diverse college leadership, departmental leadership, and instructional and research faculty capable of providing a world-class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student body. Our five-year objective was to develop a diverse instructional faculty with year-over-year increases in the percentage of gender and URM representation (In progress).
Michigan Engineering achieved an increase (19% to 20% in the past five years) in female faculty representation. We will continue to prioritize increasing gender and URM representation among faculty in the next DEI strategic plan (DEI 2.0). Examples of our progress toward developing a diverse leadership and faculty consist of:
- Female Leadership – Michigan Engineering’s female leadership is at historic levels – having reached 50% parity. Michigan Engineering followed four tools for success in this endeavor: 1) assessing culture, 2) equipping search committees to challenge unconscious biases, 3) ensuring equal access to mentors, and 4) expanding merit to include contributions toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Dean’s Advisory Committee for Faculty of Color (DACFC) – This group of faculty, which is open to all who share its mission, assists the Dean by identifying and prioritizing best practices to recruit, retain, and promote under-represented minority faculty members in Michigan Engineering while also serving as an advocacy group for faculty of color.
- Dean’s Advisory Committee on Female Faculty (DACFF) – This group of faculty, which is open to all who share its mission, assists the Dean by identifying and prioritizing best practices to recruit, retain, and promote women faculty members in Michigan Engineering while also serving as an advocacy group for women in the engineering professions. The DACFF provides leadership and career resources and fosters community building through monthly discussion-based events.
- NextProf – Developed by expert faculty, Michigan Engineering’s annual NextProf workshops have established a reputation as preeminent events in a nationwide effort to strengthen the next generation of academic leaders. NextProf supports marginalized individuals in engineering graduate programs to successfully pursue faculty positions.
S06: Recruit, develop, and graduate a talented and diverse body of students and postdoctoral researchers with the academic and multicultural skills to engineer solutions to tomorrow’s global challenges. Our five-year objective was to achieve year-over-year increases in percentage of female and URM enrollment while reaching and maintaining parity on academic performance (GPA) and retention-to-graduation (Success).
Michigan Engineering aims to continue to increase female and URM enrollment for students and postdocs. Examples of our progress toward developing a diverse student body consist of:
- Females in STEM – Michigan Engineering welcomed an incoming first-year class with 36% female enrollment for fall 2022 up from 29% in fall 2021. Overall female enrollment increased to 31% for undergraduate students, 23% for master’s degree students and 30% for female doctoral degree students.
- Increasing URM enrollment – In the fall of 2022, there was an increase in underrepresented minority enrollment to 14% from 12% in fall 2017. This increase in enrollment is the direct result of proactive recruiting, leveraging outreach programs and school partnerships.
S07: Recruit, retain, and develop a talented and diverse staff capable of supporting a world
class academic and research learning environment for a global, diverse student and
faculty population (Success).
Michigan Engineering is committed to developing a talented and diverse staff workforce. This strategic outcome has been met by ensuring training opportunities exist for all staff at Michigan Engineering. Examples of our progress toward the recruitment, retention, and development of our workforce consist of:
- Embedded DEI within the Annual Review Process – In 2018, the performance review rubric was changed to ensure Michigan Engineering’s values with regard to DEI were embedded in the process. These changes included the introduction of a DEI reflection section. This effort aligned with Michigan Engineering’s aim to create intentional communication around DEI training, metrics, and structure.
- Staff DEIC Committee – Michigan Engineering formed a staff-led governance committee tasked with overseeing the recommendations of the strategic plan. Some of the committee’s accomplishments include DEI training for all staff, incentive options for DEI training, and reviewing all classrooms for accessibility and updating where needed.
- Cultural Competency (CQ) Training – Michigan Engineering offers DEI training (CQ) for Grad Chairs, Master’s Chairs, Graduate Coordinators, Associate Director of Graduate and Professional Education (ADGPE) staff, and selected Office of Student Affairs (OSA) staff. In addition, 98 CoE graduate staff and faculty have completed CQ (Cultural Intelligence) workshops since 2018. Efforts are ongoing to train more trainers for CQ to provide workshops and follow-ups for graduate student-facing staff.
- Creative Conversations – Since 2019, the staff-created and staff-led Creative Conversations have provided the Michigan Engineering community with an effective way for staff to connect across all departments. Michigan Engineering’s Creative Conversations also provide a platform for the community to discuss matters related to DEI. The focus of the Conversations is to provide opportunities for connection and to help staff get more comfortable with some of the discomfort that might happen when discussing diversity, equity, or inclusion.
S08: Design and develop resources and opportunities for engagement and interaction that
facilitate a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for students (Success).
Michigan Engineering has made strides in designing and developing resources and opportunities to facilitate a better environment for all students. Michigan Engineering works to equip our engineers with the skills to understand problems from multiple perspectives, reevaluate established assumptions, and rebuild systems to better serve all people. From the classroom to extracurricular activities to funding opportunities, Michigan Engineering is reimagining and reshaping what engineering can be.
Examples of our progress toward developing a more equitable and inclusive learning environment consist of:
- Teaching Equity Engineering Center – Michigan Engineering was awarded a $2M grant from the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation in Engineering program to create a Teaching Equity Engineering Center. The goal of this center aligns with the strategic objective to create teaching environments where equity-centered values are present in both technical content and teaching style, leading to engineering education where students from a variety of backgrounds will experience inclusion and belonging, and engineering solutions that help to close critical gaps and elevate all people.
- Robotics Department – Michigan Engineering launched the Department of Robotics, which is the first among the nation’s top engineering schools and colleges. The new department features an inclusively designed curriculum with more than 30-course offerings, providing exposure to technologies that were inaccessible for most undergraduate students a decade ago. The new Robotics Department allows Michigan the opportunity to define the discipline of robotics with a priority on both equity and excellence.
- DEI Student Advisory Board (SAB) – Michigan Engineering’s DEI SAB comprises both graduate and undergraduate students and has become a strong voice for input and action. A direct result of the DEI SAB was the “ENGIN Talks” series. The series created forums for students to speak to key administrators and faculty about DEI programs and issues. The SAB also advises on the implementation of the DEI strategic plan.
- Sponsored Student Organizations (SSO) – Michigan Engineering created an intentional working relationship with the DEI leads of SSOs and required these organizations to create a DEI strategic plan in order to receive funding.
- Student DEI grants – This Michigan Engineering initiative supported student groups interested in working collaboratively together on DEI Initiatives. Funding was available for up to $1500 and 13 unique grants have been awarded.
Other notable achievements
ASEE Diversity Recognition Award – Michigan Engineering received the ASEE Diversity Recognition Program Bronze-level recognition in January 2021. This is the highest level issued. The recognition means that Michigan Engineering is among the nation’s leaders in inclusive excellence.
As Michigan Engineering moves toward DEI 2.0, we strive to incorporate lessons learned from the past five years. Our efforts have focused on building a framework to ensure every member of the Michigan Engineering community is educated about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, beginning with a focus on race, ethnicity, and unconscious bias. To that end, Michigan Engineering launched two major initiatives that will be critical to our next DEI strategic plan: Equity-centered Engineering: A People-First Perspective and the new Office of Culture, Community and Equity (OCCE).
- Creating a People-First Framework for Engineering – Engineering is a people-first field. Our approach is to improve both the culture and the solutions through an equity-centered engineering lens. This includes sustained pervasive education around issues of race, ethnicity, unconscious bias, and inclusion for everyone at Michigan Engineering.
- Office of Culture, Community and Equity (OCCE) – Michigan Engineering hired the first Executive Director of Culture, Community and Equity, to evolve the role of our Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach (CEDO), to a new structure that works horizontally across all units to establish a centralized base of support and expertise for the DEI efforts within Michigan Engineering.
Michigan Engineering has dedicated significant resources toward the implementation of our inaugural DEI strategic plan. We have realized significant gains in some areas and modest gains in others. We have more work to do in order to create and maintain a climate where every member of our community feels valued. The work of DEI is never done; it is work that evolves, not concludes. Michigan Engineering looks forward to building on our progress in DEI 2.0.