A Year of Change in the DEI Space
2021 was a year of tremendous growth for our diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism efforts at the Rackham Graduate School, and I am excited to share some of the highlights with you, as they impact Rackham community members from applicants to alumni. One important example was shared by Dean Solomon when speaking about the elimination of the GRE for doctoral admissions. You can read more about that decision here.
To encourage scholars to pursue DEI work during their graduate experience, we have partnered with the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) to award the inaugural cohort of Anti-Racism Research Fellowships for graduate students, who began their research last summer. We will soon welcome the second group of more than 20 fellows in 2022.
In order to better serve all of our students both on and off campus, we have introduced a faculty education workshop titled “Beyond Compliance: Towards a More Inclusive and Accessible Climate for Rackham Graduate Students with Disabilities.” This workshop was formed thanks to recommendations from the Committee on Graduate Student Experiences with Disability Accommodations at the University of Michigan, in collaboration with ADVANCE, and has catalyzed an effort within Rackham and across campus to improve how we support the success of graduate students with disabilities.
In the spirit of better reflecting the tremendous diversity of our graduate education community, and to make graduate students feel more welcome in areas around campus, Rackham’s Inclusive Spaces Committee has been charged with promoting inclusive and universal design principles to establish more welcoming and inclusive physical spaces within the Rackham Building. The newly designed Dean’s Hallway was our first project. It will be followed by other similar projects in high-traffic areas of the building, in addition to the creation of a quiet space for reflection and well-being.
It has been especially heartening to see the interest and dedication of our alumni in this space. Members of the newly established Rackham Alumni Diversity Council (RADC) are currently exploring the ways in which alumni can help advance DEI within our graduate programs across campus. Additionally, 61 U-M alumni participated in the first year of the Alumni MPact Certificate program, which I invite you to read more about below.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to those supporting these important initiatives in myriad ways with your expertise, time, and financial resources. Your partnership means a great deal to Rackham and the students we serve. Thank you.
Ethriam Brammer, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean, Rackham Graduate School
A New DEI Certificate
Led by Assistant Director of Professional Development and Engagement, Deborah Willis, Rackham’s DEI Certificate Program has been encouraging growth for students in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space since 2017. Since its inception, the program has conferred 374 certificates, and there are currently 353 active participants with over 200 on track to complete this year, a record number for the program.
I have been put into connection with so many amazing, diverse people that are making differences in their own spaces and communities. That in itself was an experience that is irreplaceable.
In 2021, the Alumni M-Pact Certificate Program welcomed its inaugural cohort of 61 U-M alumni participants—14 of whom graduated from a Rackham program—and 35 alumni volunteers who served as project coaches. Participants represented all three campuses, degree years spanning from 1969 to 2021, 17 different states, and the U.K. Participants engaged in readings, videos, and discussions around race and other areas of diversity. Additionally, cohort members take on their own DEI projects with support and guidance through themed small group conversations and individually matched coaches.