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University of Michigan Launches National Center for Institutional Diversity


With a new home and an acting director, and groundwork laid by some of the nation’s leading experts, The University of Michigan National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) is poised and ready to launch a number of initiatives to move the discussion of diversity beyond the issue of representation, university leaders say.

“Following the successful planning conference in May, the University of Michigan is proud to launch the National Center for Institutional Diversity, which will bring together the most astute minds and accomplished practitioners to examine diversity in all its complexity,” President Mary Sue Coleman said. “The center will bring together leaders from education, corporations, the military and the cultural and artistic fields to reconcile the theoretical and the practical, and to examine current best-practices as well as develop others for the future.”

The NCID, a long-time dream of Lester Monts senior vice provost, grew from the university’s experience with the admissions lawsuits.

“As U-M defended its case before the U.S. Supreme Court it became clear that the University’s work in the area of diversity reached beyond higher education to K-12 education, business and industry, and many other areas, Monts said. “It is most fitting that U-M continue its national leadership in this area by broadening the scope and reach of the diversity discussion.”

The center will be led by Patricia Gurin, the Nancy Cantor Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Psychology and Women’s Studies. Gurin, whose research on the educational benefits of diversity was considered pivotal in the Supreme Court cases, recently accepted the role of acting director of the center.

Programming for the NCID, which now has a physical home in the School of Education Building, will build on last spring’s Futuring Diversity Conference, during which leaders in higher education, business, and other fields converged to share insights and recommend direction for the center. Specific initiatives derived from the conference and from discussions among the NCID Steering Committee include:

  • The organization and sponsorship of colloquia, beginning with a November event focusing on “The Complexity of Diversity” that will address the issue from a systems perspective, and another in March on health disparities, with an emphasis on community leadership.
  • The development of a fellows program.
  • The naming of national, community and campus affiliates. Among other considerations, an NCID steering committee will consult with a number of existing campus programs that work in the area of diversity to determine and build appropriate affiliations.
  • The formation of a national advisory committee to guide future programming.  

The NCID will convene researchers, activists and practitioners from a variety of social institutions to develop the models, networks and tools needed for exploring the challenges and opportunities of diversity, Gurin said.

“With an emphasis on research and programs that enable concrete social change, the center will operate as a think-tank, incubator, venture fund, clearinghouse and publisher, as it examines diversity in its richest, broadest sense,” Gurin said.

Initial planning for the center was made possible by a $144,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

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