University of Michigan’s $85M plan aims to promote diversity

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan unveiled an $85 million, five-year plan to promote diversity and inclusion Thursday, just days after racist flyers posted at the mostly white Ann Arbor campus caused unease among some black students.

The flyers posted in at least one campus building last week argued that white women shouldn’t date black men. Some black students have complained about the low percentage of African-Americans enrolled, and say they feel unwelcome on campus.

“The value of creating a robust, diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community — one where people of different abilities, races and ethnicities, political and religious views, sexual orientations and gender identities feel welcome and accepted — is immeasurable,” Vice Provost Rob Sellers said in a release.

University President Mark Schlissel is recommending Sellers as the school’s first chief diversity officer. His appointment goes before the school’s Board of Regents on Oct. 20.

“Our community can be complete only when all members feel welcome,” Schlissel said.

The university has committed $85 million over the next five years to implement the initiatives, including a program to help incoming freshman assess and develop skills to navigate cultural and other differences. Faculty will be given resources and tools to help them make learning more inclusive and effective for diverse groups of students. Outreach programs will be created to recruit and keep a more diverse pool of students, faculty and staff.

Students, faculty and staff provided input for the initiatives over the course of a year and more than 200 meetings.

The university said last year that its freshman enrollment was more diverse when compared with classes over the previous decade. The school’s incoming freshman class last fall was 6,071. Underrepresented minorities including black, Hispanic and Native American students comprised 12.8 percent of that incoming class, the largest percentage since 2005.

The school lost a fight to consider race as one of several factors for admission when Michigan voters passed a ballot measure in 2006 that banned affirmative action in the state.

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban against considering race in any way in college admissions.

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