Post Proposal 2 brainstorming already underway at University
The campus community has responded with a number of thoughtful ideas for how to achieve diversity within new limits of the law resulting from the passage of Proposal 2, University leaders say.
President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Teresa Sullivan announced Nov. 21 a campuswide task force called Diversity Blueprints that will encourage brainstorming and creative thinking among all segments of the University community on the question, "How can we maintain and enhance diversity at U-M in the years ahead?" The task force membership, to be announced soon, will include students, staff, faculty, alumni and administrators. It will be co-chaired by Sullivan and Lester Monts, senior vice provost and senior counselor to the president.
"We know we have a great deal of work to do at the University of Michigan to live up to our ideals of a broadly diverse learning community," Coleman and Sullivan wrote in a message to campus. "This would be true regardless of whether Proposal 2 were approved by Michigan voters. But the passage of the amendment makes this work more urgent, particularly with respect to race, ethnicity, gender and national origin."
Since the announcement of Diversity Blueprints, many people across campus already have submitted ideas through a dedicated e-mail address, Diversity.Blueprints@umich.edu.
"We've received some very positive and supportive comments from students, faculty and alumni, and others have contributed a number of worthy recommendations," Monts says.
Of the more than 250 responses sent to the e-mail addresses, many have recommended several concepts to assist the University with efforts to assemble a diverse class. Others have suggested the University increase K-12 outreach and intervention, and encourage intergroup dialogue and idea sharing to bring about other solutions.
A number of people have addressed the president's post-Proposal 2 stance and asked that she follow the law and resist spending additional money on diversity efforts. The day after the Nov. 7 election, during which 58 percent of voters approved the amendment that bans discrimination and preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender and national origin in public education, employment and contracting, Coleman said she would do all that is possible within the law to ensure U-M remains a diverse campus.
Once a task force is in place the University will hold a forum series to encourage more ideas, Monts says. He also expects a number of creative suggestions to come from members of the task force.
"This will be a blue ribbon-type committee selected from among the most knowledgeable people on campuspeople who have expertise on issues surrounding diversity in higher education and who are particularly interested in supporting the University in this arena," Monts says.
He says one of the group's biggest responsibilities will be to review all of the ideas generated to see which ones rise to the surface as the most plausible and those most likely to succeed as means to further diversity.
"Our University thrives on finding solutions to vexing societal issues. This is an historic moment, and an opportunity to apply our collective creative, energetic thinking to discover the most effective ways to support diversity. We will succeed only if we have thoughtful input from everyone in our community," Coleman and Sullivan wrote.
"We are asking the Diversity Blueprints task force, and our entire community, to leave no stone unturned as we explore ways to encourage diversity within the boundaries of the law.
"The ideas submitted may range from general insights to detailed plans. In the true spirit of brainstorming, all ideas will be considered regardless of how ambitious or unconventional they may seem. We will commit significant resources to some of the best and most promising recommendations that the Diversity Blueprints task force brings forward."
In addition to the address for suggestions, a second e-mail account has been created for those who have questions. All messages sent to Questions@umich.edu go to the Office of Institutional Equity for routing to the appropriate areas for response.