Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 22, 2012

OAMI celebrates 25 years of service to student excellence, diversity

Dedicated to supporting the university's ongoing commitment to an intellectually and culturally diverse campus community, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives collaborates with on-campus and external constituencies to enrich the academic, social, cultural and personal development of students.


For more information or to register for the March 29 symposium, go the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives website.

This month OAMI will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the symposium Conversations On Serving a Diverse Student Community: Best Practices, Challenges, Successes & The Future, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 29 at Palmer Commons. The symposium is the first of several events that will mark the silver anniversary.

Perhaps best known for sponsoring the university's annual symposium in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., OAMI also has developed a full array of academic support programming that works in concert with the schools and colleges and academic support offices throughout the university.

"OAMI's role within the academic core of the university has enabled them to lead the way in establishing broad and sustained collaborative efforts that support our students' achievements," says Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Lester Monts. "Throughout its history, OAMI has been guided by a commitment to the essential relationship between multiculturalism and excellence in academics."

At the start of the higher-education continuum, OAMI established GEAR-UP to provide pre-college support to students in four partner schools in Detroit, Highland Park and Romulus. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Michigan's King/Chavez/Parks Initiative, GEAR-UP works with students in grades 6-12. OAMI also strives to help boost community college transfers to U-M through the M-POD and M-TIES initiatives.

Other OAMI programs include Leaders and Best, which helps first- and second-year students make a successful transition to U-M from high school. And, as their college careers progress, OAMI's Student Academic Multicultural Initiatives (SAMI) program provides U-M students and student organizations with funding for multicultural activities that have an academic focus.

OAMI also directly works with individual student organizations such as IMMAD (Intellectual Minds Making a Difference), which endeavors to help eradicate the K-12 achievement gap, and Project Lighthouse in its work with Hmong-American high school students in Detroit.

In recognition of the successful completion of their university studies, OAMI supports annual commencement celebrations for students at the Black Celebratory, La Celebraçion Latina and the Native American Graduation Celebration (co-sponsored with Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and Trotter Multicultural Center).

OAMI is the base of operations for the Michigan Student Study, which is led by John Matlock, associate vice provost and executive director of OAMI, and colleagues Katrina Wade-Golden, research area specialist lead at OAMI, and Gerald Gurin, professor emeritus of higher education and research scientist emeritus of the Institute for Social Research.

Since 1990, MSS has documented ways to make diversity an intellectually challenging and broadening experience for U-M students, and has documented their experiences in our diverse student community. This nationally recognized longitudinal research project, funded in part by the Ford Foundation, has produced 10 doctoral dissertations.

"We are proud of all we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish," says Matlock, who has led OAMI for 24 of its 25 years. "It reflects tremendous commitment by the OAMI staff and the university community.

"Our greatest achievement over the years is represented by the hundreds of student leaders we have worked with, who have gone on to do wonderful things in the academy, the professions, and in service to their communities."

OAMI's 25th anniversary celebration will continue through 2012, including a major event in the fall term that will feature former OAMI students and staff, and a student leadership awards ceremony.