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Updated 12:00 PM February 9, 2004
 

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President Coleman hosts historic diversity summit



President Mary Sue Coleman has invited more than 300 University executive officers, deans, faculty, staff and students to discuss the campus climate during a daylong Diversity Summit Feb. 11.

"We expect that additional discussions, programs and events will be planned as a result of the summit in order to expand the discussion." —Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts

The first event of its kind, the summit will use small-group discussions to foster the exchange of ideas among all ranks of faculty, students and staff.

"Our goal will be a better understanding of the current campus climate," Coleman says. "I want to make sure that all members of our community feel welcome to participate fully in campus life."

Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts, the president's senior counselor for the arts, diversity and undergraduate affairs, has coordinated the planning of the event with a program committee consisting of members of the Diversity Council, deans and executive officers.

"During the admissions lawsuits," he says, "we were focused on the national conversation about affirmative action. At this event, we are turning our attention to the important voices and questions within our own community."

Although the Diversity Summit is concerned with strategies for improving the University's climate, the invitation sent by Coleman to participants includes the expectation that U-M's institutional commitment to diversity will provide "a national model on this crucial issue."

Plenary speakers include Coleman at 8:30 a.m. and executive vice presidents Paul N. Courant (academic affairs), Timothy Slottow (finance) and Dr. Robert Kelch (medical affairs) at 12:15 p.m. In addition, Mark Chesler, professor of sociology, will speak on institutional change at 9 a.m. The sessions will be broadcast live on UMTV, and replayed periodically. UMTV is on Channel 22 or 69 on the campus cable network, and off-campus on Comcast Channel 22.

In addition, members of the campus community can go to the Sophia B. Jones Room and the Michigan Student Assembly Chambers (room #3909) in the Michigan Union to watch a live broadcast. Summaries of the proceedings will be distributed after the event in order to foster additional conversations about improving campus climate. See the Feb. 16 University Record for coverage of the day's discussions.

The Diversity Summit will be the first of an ongoing series of discussions about the campus climate at Michigan, Monts says. The outcomes of the summit will be discussed by various standing committees in upcoming months (including the Diversity Council, the Provost's Faculty Committee on Education for a Diverse Democracy, meetings of senior administration and various unit-based committees).

"We expect that additional discussions, programs and events will be planned as a result of the summit in order to expand the discussion to incorporate the diverse range of voices and experiences within the Michigan community," Monts says.

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