Vice Provost Chavous: A Renewed Commitment to Learning from our Community

August 15, 2022

To the University Community,

As I begin my tenure as U-M’s Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, I’m excited for what the future holds, and I am humbled to lead and collaborate with our University community in the next phase of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

As a member of the University of Michigan community for nearly 24 years–as a faculty member and administrator–I’ve learned so much about this institution. The people, passion, and innovative approach to all we do are what truly make U-M a place like none other. With this experience also comes a renewed commitment to learning from our community – to better understand what has worked, what we can improve upon, and what still needs to be done in order to help make U-M a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and be successful.

A phrase that I use often is that “two things can be true at the same time.” Indeed, as a woman of color in this society, the experience of living with multiple truths is a familiar one and is an experience that is shared by many members of historically marginalized communities and their allies. That is, we can acknowledge and celebrate ways that–through the strategy and efforts of many–we have made tremendous progress over time as an institution and society with regard to advancing opportunity, access, and equity for many individuals and groups.

At the same time, we also recognize a reality where interconnected systems of gender, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and ability-status inequalities (among multiple types of inequality) still exist and are still embedded in our societal and institutional practices and processes in ways that can cause and reinforce harm and prevent equitable thriving opportunities for all.

Understanding and acting on these multiple truths is the ongoing work of DEI.

As we continue to move forward together on this journey, our success will require involvement from our entire community – faculty, staff, and students. This is our university, our community, and a diverse range of perspectives derived from all of us is essential to becoming the University we want to be.

Throughout the University’s initial five-year DEI strategic plan (DEI 1.0), we have made substantial progress through approximately 2,700 action items that were developed and executed by our community. These actions focused on improving access, representation, and experiences among our students, staff, and faculty. Although the first phase of our DEI plan has concluded (DEI 1.0), the work has not ceased. Throughout this spring and summer, our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has reviewed each of our 51 campus units’ evaluations of their own DEI 1.0 plan efforts – including successes, challenges and stumbling blocks, and key lessons learned. Our Office also led community conversation sessions with faculty, staff and students to help us better understand what will be required of us as an institution to be successful moving forward. These efforts, among others, are part of our continued commitment to DEI as we build toward our next DEI strategic plan (DEI 2.0).

With a new academic year just around the corner, I’m eager to connect with our student, faculty and staff communities, and begin our next phase of this crucial work.

I wish all of you a great remainder of your summer and look forward to collaborating with you in the future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tabbye Chavous
Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer