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National diversity center spotlights innovation

When Valerie Myers observed that many of her MBA students experienced a disconnect between their understandings of diversity and their experiences in the global marketplace, she took action.

“U.S. students especially struggled to see that the mechanisms of rankism and discrimination were happening in other places in the world. The targets were just different,” says Myers, assistant professor of management and organizations in the School of Public Health and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

With Lynn Wooten, clinical associate professor of strategy management and organizations in the Ross School of Business, she designed a campuswide lecture series that would merge domestic and global diversity issues to identify strategies for leveraging the power of difference to improve organizational effectiveness. They submitted a proposal to the annual Diversity Conversations competition at the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity and earned a venture grant award and the center’s leadership in raising additional support from 17 other campus units.

This 2009-10 Diversity Conversations lecture series, titled “Leveraging the Power of Diversity: Global and Domestic Perspectives,” has featured Robert Fuller, former president of Oberlin College and national expert on rankism; Scott Page, U-M professor of complex systems and author of “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies;” Stacy Blake-Beard, associate professor of management at Simmons College, with expertise in mentoring relationships as a means of increasing workforce diversity; and Edward Hubbard, international business consultant and one of the first metrics authors in the field of diversity.

“Through the NCID’s Diversity Conversations award and the generous cosponsorships that it stimulated from other campus partners, we’ve been able to bring together theory, application and measurement to advance the national conversation about effective diversity management,” Myers says.

Established in 2005, the NCID promotes exemplary approaches to diversity challenges and opportunities within the university, other major social institutions, the nation and the world, says Phillip Bowman, NCID director. Its annual funding cycle includes faculty fellowships, a center fellows program for external partners, and support for diversity-related gatherings or events.

“The University of Michigan continues to be a remarkable source of national leadership and innovation on diversity. With so many revolutionary thinkers, researchers and practitioners in our midst, it makes sense that the NCID’s promotion of national diversity models includes showcasing and supporting the innovations here at home, many of which are already attracting national attention,” Bowman says.

“We’re pleased by the growing number of campus units committed to cosponsoring national models of successful, robust diversity. Because such internal partnerships enable the institutionalization of diversity initiatives and provide a foundation for expanding related NCID external partnerships, we’re especially interested in proposals that are endorsed by the dean, department head or director of an applicant’s home unit.”
The NCID has funded the following projects for 2008-09:

NCID Call for Proposals:
2009-10 cycle

To further its mission of promoting national exemplars and bridging research, engagement and innovation in diversity, the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) invites proposals for its annual grants competition.

Updated RFPs appear on the NCID Web site at
Faculty and senior staff from the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses are eligible. The deadline for the 2009-10 cycle is April 1.
Faculty Fellows: Continuing instructional faculty, lecturers, research scientists/professors, librarians, curators and archivists are eligible. Projects may include research and scholarly activities; community-based or policy-relevant research; and educational or curricular activities — all consonant with the mission of the NCID. Up to four fellowship awards annually, with a maximum of $10K for the fellow and $15K for team members, project assistance or other costs.
Center Fellows: Candidates are external partners (such as policy experts, directors of non-profit organizations, K-12 practitioners, academics outside of U-M, or leaders within other major social institutions) who are collaborating with a U-M colleague on a diversity initiative with strong potential to become a national model. Candidates must be nominated by the U-M colleague(s). There are up to two or three awards annually, with a maximum of $15K for a long-term project and $5K for a short-term project.
Diversity Conversations: U-M faculty and senior staff are invited to submit proposals for innovative conversations about diversity, to occur within a conference, forum, retreat, seminar, lecture series or other single or multi-stage gatherings. There are up to three awards annually. Funding requests vary significantly but should not exceed $30K.  Cosponsorship from other units is highly desirable.

Faculty Fellows
Robert Jagers, associate professor of education at the School of Education, is conducting an initial evaluation of the youth leadership program at YouthVille Detroit, a facility that serves a potential pool of 26,000 children in central Detroit. This study examines opportunities for civic engagement and activism cultivated through youth leadership programs, and short-term effects of this non-school context, taking into account the perspectives of the youth themselves. Jagers is collaborating with the NCID U-M/Youthville Team, including Larry Gant, professor of the School of Social Work; Nick Collins, director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Academic Success; and Youthville senior staff and student researchers.

• Assistant professor of women’s studies and political science Anna Kirkland is undertaking a mixed methodology study of undergraduates’ ideas about what diversity means, in which she analyzes a sample of 176 “diversity essays” written by members of the incoming class of 2008. This project will offer insights into ways applicants talk about diversity from different class positions, and includes a focus group and an analysis of popular coaching materials about how to write the diversity essay. Assistant professor of statistics Ben Hansen designed the sampling methodology and continues to provide consultation on the quantitative analysis.

• Building upon her previous work with the NCID-ADVANCE, Advancing Diversity and Excellence in Science and Engineering Initiative, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation Sonya Miller is completing an educational DVD that features creative and artistic expressions by people with disabilities. This DVD will be a central component of her healthcare-disabilities curriculum, which aims to increase understanding of the power differential between patient and health care provider. She is testing the curriculum in undergraduate, graduate and professional settings to optimize its use as a national model.

Michael Woodford, assistant professor of social work, is conducting a multiphase study of heterosexism on the U-M campus and the utility of LGBTQ ally training to build and sustain an inclusive environment for LGBTQ students. These findings and other formative research will provide an empirical basis for the redevelopment of the University’s LGBTQ Ally Program, resulting in a comprehensive institutional training intervention that prepares allies to be both support persons and change agents. The study also is funded by the Vivian A. & James L. Curtis Research and Training Center of the School of Social Work.

Diversity Conversations
Roger Fisher and Robin Routenberg, respectively associate co-director and program manager of the Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR), are implementing the Growing Allies Project through in-service training workshops, gatherings, innovative applications of Web technologies such as Facebook and CTOOLS, and a once-a-semester retreat. Also supported by the Division of Student Affairs, this project seeks to build an environment of sustainable safety at the university through the creation and maintenance of ally programs and to bridge connections among individuals interested in enhancing their ally development along multiple identities.

Valerie Myers, assistant professor of management and organizations in the School of Public Health and the Ross School of Business, and Lynn Wooten, clinical associate professor of strategy management and organizations at the Ross School of Business, have developed the “Leveraging the Power of Diversity: Global and Domestic Perspectives” lecture series. Featured speakers explore four issues related to managing diversity in complex organizations: 1) leveraging the power of difference to improve organizational effectiveness; 2) examining empirical support for diversity paradigms; 3) overcoming factors that undermine diversity initiatives; and 4) measuring the outcomes of diversity management practices.

• Executive director of the Office of Educational Opportunity Initiatives at UM-Flint, Tendaji Ganges and the UM-Flint Diversity Council are developing a campus-community lecture series titled “Diversity Dialogues: Transforming Our Campus Climate.” The project expands on Courageous Conversations, a series of discussions held in response to several racially and religiously motivated bias incidents on the Flint campus. It will address recommendations from the 2005 UM-Flint climate study; provide additional co-curricular programming for faculty, staff and students; and provide a mechanism through which the campus may dialogue about diversity issues and strengthen relationships with the broader Flint and Genesee County communities.

Diversity Conversation and Center Fellow Project
• NCID Center fellow Sultan Sharrief is a community activist-filmmaker who founded the Encouraging the Filmmaking Experience Project (EFEX) with Terri Sarris, senior lecturer in the LSA Department of Screen Arts and Culture and 2007-08 NCID Faculty Fellow. EFEX is a community outreach effort that brings together U-M students with middle and high school students from metro Detroit, engaging them in the production of film projects. The project coordinators are forming partnerships with university admissions and outreach leaders to use “Bilal’s Stand,” a feature-length film produced by EFEX, as a tool for encouraging underrepresented students to pursue higher education. It will address recommendations from the 2005 U-M Flint climate study; provide additional co-curricular programming for faculty, staff and students; and provide a mechanism through which the campus may dialogue with the broader Flint community about its diversity challenges and opportunities in the post-industrial economic transformation of the region.


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