Budgets are a crucial component of all departments and operations, and enable the institution to achieve its goals and mission. Therefore, it’s essential that DEI efforts be linked—directly and inextricably—with the university’s overall budgeting process.
At the U-M, this was achieved by making the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) an integral part of budget meetings with Deans and Unit Directors. This structural change in funding protocol encourages every unit to include specific requests for DEI initiatives and to consider how DEI can be integrated into existing functions.
For the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), it provides a point of consultation and assessment. It encourages Deans to have direct discussion and collaboration with faculty and staff about DEI as a function the budget supports. It keeps campus leadership focused on the goals and principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. It affirms the value and work of unit-based DEI leads.
Perhaps most important, it assures participation and accountability by every academic department and administrative unit. In many ways, DEI work is closely integrated with other core functions of the institution, such as recruiting, admissions, financial aid, and instruction. It is core to work that supports upholding federal laws such as Equal Opportunity Employment and Title IX.
Investing in additional efforts related to teaching & learning, professional development, and educational outreach to the K-12 community helps us achieve our mission as an institution. Our current DEI Strategic Plan has served to shine a light on the need to be more intentional and transparent about DEI as part of the institution’s budget and budgeting process.
- Make DEI an intrinsic value and operating principle for the entire organization by embedding it in the budget process
- Promote widespread institutional change by making DEI programs a priority and a permanent line item in all budgets
- Encourage Deans and Unit Managers to consult with DEI Leads and engage in innovative, long-term planning by creating a permanent, reliable source of funding
- Assure that every unit is actively participating in and contributing to the campus-wide strategic plan for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion
- Create opportunities for collaboration and discussion between budget planners and DEI senior staff members
The active “agents” of this process include budget directors, provosts, deans and DEI Leads campuswide as well as the university’s Chief Diversity Officer and executive-level support staff from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Academic Affairs.
The U-M’s decision to make DEI a component of every budget is based on the understanding that effective culture change requires an ongoing commitment of time, talent and dollars, and that change efforts cannot be separated from the budgeting process.
The first step in assuring continuous and strategic funding for DEI, both campus wide and at the unit level, involved modifying the university’s budget procedure. The Chief Diversity Officer became part of the executive-level budget approval process for the university as a whole, with a voice in every major funding decision.
The CDO also confers and collaborates with deans and unit directors, to discuss strategies for integrating DEI work as part of the unit’s budget plan. To facilitate planning at the unit level, Deans and Unit Directors are encouraged to consult with their DEI Leads and others early in the year to discuss upcoming plans, programs and funding needs.
This may involve consultation with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or with units such as the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching or the Center for Educational Outreach. Once formal budget requests and rationales have been submitted and reviewed, the Chief Diversity Officer meets with the university’s Office of Budget and Planning (OBP) to discuss DEI funding.
In this way, DEI is institutionalized as part of budget planning rather than as a separate, additional funding discussion.
While select DEI initiatives receive central funding to advance their success, every unit is expected to plan, coordinate and fund its own DEI efforts across the key strategic areas of recruitment & retention, education & scholarship, and building an inclusive and equitable community. Staffing DEI efforts varies across the university.
This work is not separate from other work of the institution, but requires specific knowledge and skills as well as time and effort at both a strategic level and an operational level. Factoring in staffing needs into the budget is important, as is providing accountability for the work and impact of these roles.
From year-to-year, each unit involved in the DEI Strategic Plan, as well as the Campus level efforts, determine their annual budgets, including the ways that DEI will be supported.
The evaluation and assessment of efforts (see related DEI Toolkit Guide) guide decisions about which efforts should be continued, expanded, reduced, or redirected. This level of accountability supports efficient and effective use of funds over time.
At the U-M, DEI is included in annual budget discussions, reviews and final decisions. Units are asked to provide mid-year updates on budget-dependent goals and activities–including DEI–in a written update to the Provost’s office. Deans and other university leaders discuss both their progress and future needs as part of an annual budget process.
The units’ use of funding towards DEI efforts are assessed alongside all other aspects of their budgets. Although DEI is increasingly integrated into core functions, it is also reviewed as a distinct and separate aspect of the budget. This provides for greater accountability and transparency in both campuswide and unit efforts in support of DEI.
In a broad sense, the effectiveness of this approach to DEI budgeting will be evaluated by the results of campus DEI efforts themselves, as well as the extent to which DEI as a regular part of budget planning is sustained long term.
- To the degree that it’s possible, the institution’s budget process should be linked with the work of DEI.
- Ideally, funding for DEI will be shared between the university and its various units. Both academic and administrative departments should be encouraged to support and grow their own DEI initiatives.
- The process of institutionalizing DEI initiatives through funding protocols requires a readiness for change on the part of a college or university. The U-M approach, which is ambitious, may not be appropriate for your institution at this point in time.
- Temper persistence with patience. In some cases, the financial resources are ready but the organization is not. If so, continue to focus on building awareness and support for the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion as an institutional value.