Key Findings, Themes and Recommendations

Key Theme #1

The Rackham student population overall is more diverse relative to the broader U-M picture around selected/available demographic indicators – URM, first generation, Pell grant recipient (self-reported), although the Master’s programs are overall less diverse than our Ph.D. programs. Rackham’s overall student diversity also is strong in comparison to the national picture of graduate education, especially among our competitive peer institutions.

This diversity, while improving overall in recent years, remains uneven across Rackham’s disciplinary divisions, schools/colleges/units, and graduate programs, with some programs showing low diversity with regard to race/ethnicity (domestic URM students), gender, first generation students, socioeconomic status, among other areas of diversity.

Trends indicate improvements over time in some areas (e.g., recent increases in URM enrollments for the FY15 incoming cohorts). However, there are varied trends within the URM population (e.g., increases in Latino/a student enrollments, decreases in African American student enrollments over time, as well as consistent, low enrollments among Native American students).

Implications and Recommendations

  • Continue and expand programmatic, practice, and policy efforts to enhance student diversity across all Rackham divisions, schools/colleges/units, and graduate programs.

Key Theme #2

Doctoral completion among historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (URM) students is improving over time, in line with improved completion of the overall student population; however, in some Rackham programs there is a gap between the doctoral completion of URM students and all students.

Implications and Recommendations

  • Continue and expand programmatic, practice, and policy efforts to support effective faculty-student mentoring relationships for all students; include efforts to support faculty and programs in supporting effective mentoring across difference (racial/ethnic, social, cultural, etc.)
  • Through Rackham programming and partnerships with programs, support community-building activities to enhance climate and inclusion and students’ sense of belonging in their programs.

Key Theme #3

The rich information we have collected from student-reported data and feedback indicate a number of key DE&I-related challenges in the areas of: campus climate experiences; mentoring experiences; faculty interactions; student burden in engaging DE&I work, as well as clarity and inclusion around DE&I efforts on campus and in their academic units. Students also contributed a range of ideas and proposed solutions around these challenges.

Implications and Recommendations

  • Continue and expand programmatic, practice, and policy efforts to enhance all students’ experiences of climate and inclusion, within their academic programs and in the broader campus community.
  • Through Rackham programming and partnerships with programs, support community-building activities to enhance sense of belonging.
  • Provide information/support to students about their roles in identifying, developing and maintaining satisfactory mentoring relationships, while also working to improve faculty mentoring practices and academic program accountability for providing high quality mentoring opportunities to all students.
  • Involve and communicate effectively with students around DE&I strategic planning.

Key Theme #4

Student, faculty, and staff reports/feedback indicate that supports for “development” and “training” relevant to enhancing DE&I are needed (i.e., “Diversity skills”).

Implications and Recommendations

  • Learn about and address (through Rackham programming and partnerships with programs) relevant development/training needs for faculty, students, and staff, especially in areas of:
    • Recruitment/admissions knowledge and practices (e.g., addressing perceived challenges in recruitment and encouraging use of best practices around identifying pools of qualified prospective students from diverse backgrounds; accurate information around the legal context and ways to recruit for diversity in effective and legally compliant ways, the benefits and effective use of holistic review approaches in admissions)
    • Mentoring (increasing and encouraging faculty engagement in mentoring; development of knowledge and skills around mentoring in general and mentoring diverse students; need for incentives for investment in mentoring and good mentoring and consequences for consistent, poor, ineffective mentoring);
    • Diversity and inclusion in classroom and academic settings (increasing student and faculty instructors’ understanding and pedagogical skills related to diversity and inclusion in the classroom; helping students navigate their own roles and identities as students and instructors in the classroom, including ways of responding effectively to microaggressions; need for faculty to view themselves as accountable for creating an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom, regardless of their scholarly/disciplinary backgrounds).

Key Theme #5

Rackham staff experiences of DE&I are underexplored.

Rackham has never had a formal internal climate or organizational assessment; informal discussions with staff (with Rackham Administrative Director as well as in DE&I Advisory Committee and Rackham Leadership Team meetings) indicate a need and desire for such assessment.

DE&I themes suggested from informal staff discussions include: variation and unevenness in staff experiences of inclusion (sense of community, having voice, recognition) and equity (opportunities for development and growth).

Implications and Recommendations

  • Continue to take steps to learn about DE&I experiences of staff.
  • Develop an approach for assessing climate among staff that includes staff input.
  • Develop regular ways for a diverse range of staff to be involved in input and feedback around staff concerns, development, and community.
  • Improve organizational practices around staff development opportunities (including feedback practices, mentoring opportunities, opportunities for learning growth, and professional advancement).