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Aug. 10, 2021

MSU releases diversity, equity and inclusion framework to inform strategic planning efforts

Michigan State University today released its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee Plan, culminating 18 months of review, stakeholder input and development. The plan was designed as a framework of recommendations to improve the culture around DEI and collaborate with overall strategic planning efforts across the university.

The DEI Steering Committee was formed by MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., in December 2019, and is co-chaired by Wanda D. Lipscomb, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry and College of Human Medicine senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and Luis Alonzo Garcia, director of Migrant Student Services. The Committee was charged with taking inventory of the university’s efforts related to DEI across campus; identifying potential synergies; pinpointing existing gaps, and establishing a framework for making MSU a national leader in DEI. The framework includes 27 recommendations, categorized by four major themes:

  • Increase diversity
  • Ensure equity
  • Promote inclusion 
  • Enhance outreach and engagement

“MSU’s commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion must be embedded in the university’s culture and meaningfully expressed in every academic and administrative unit,” Stanley said. “Our success depends on the engagement of the entire campus community. Guided by this framework, that is the work that lies ahead.”

The DEI Steering Committee included 26 MSU experts. The committee conducted 53 listening sessions with more than 400 participants from stakeholder groups across the university. The committee also reviewed and benchmarked 16 DEI plans from the Association of the American Universities and Big 10 institutions.

The recommendations will be incorporated into the work of MSU’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee; the efforts of MSU’s new Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D.; and the strategic planning divisions of all MSU academic and administrative units.

“We know that diversity, equity and inclusion cannot exist in a silo,” said Bennett. “We intend that these recommendations serve not only as a university-wide mechanism for advancement but as a tool for every department at every level to incorporate best practices in DEI.”

The steering committee also collected community input and developed DEI definitions, conducted a campus-wide inventory of existing DEI efforts, and studied national trends and best practices to inform the development of the report and plan.

“Creating a more inclusive campus is the responsibility of all MSU stakeholders,” said Lipscomb. “While we know there is significant work to do before then, we hope that this framework will be the first of many steps toward that brighter future.” 

The committee examined the composition and success of the faculty, staff and student body; research and scholarship; curriculum and educational programs; community engagement; and culture. The areas were evaluated broadly with a focus on social identities including age, color, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level and veteran status to ensure inclusivity of the campus community.

“In developing these recommendations, we have taken great care to include the insights of the Spartan community — especially those who have been traditionally underrepresented and whose voices have not been heard in the past,” added Garcia. “We are grateful to the many individuals who contributed to this work, including our steering committee members.”

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