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On September 25, Rackham Graduate School, the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, and the Kellogg Foundation sponsored the U-M/Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Disciplinary Hub Planning Meeting, including programs from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; the School of Education; and nine MSI partner institutions.

The purpose of the meeting was to create an opportunity for select U-M academic programs and their MSI colleagues to come together and work collaboratively towards discipline-specific shared goals and interests in alignment with institutional goals to cultivate meaningful, bidirectional relationships within and between institutions, including MSIs.

“I believe this important work is best accomplished when it is supported by a culture of broad engagement,” said Rackham Dean Mike Solomon. “Rackham’s goal is not only to attract a diverse student population, but also to create an environment in which all students experience welcome, support, and a sense of belonging. These essential parts of the student experience are—I believe—a byproduct of the type of close collaboration between faculty, staff, and students that this meeting made possible.”

The discussions centered on collaboration around a number of different themes, from recruitment and admissions to cohort and community building, professional development and career opportunities within and beyond academia, student peer mentoring, and others. Participants also stressed the importance of discussing institutional supports needed for both the relationships and students to be successful.

In addition to those present from U-M programs, representatives of Florida A&M University, the University of Oklahoma, Morehouse College, Florida International University, the University of Texas at El Paso, Morgan State University, the University of New Mexico, and Spelman College were on hand. More than 70 people attended a closing plenary discussion featuring remarks by U-M Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Rob Sellers, along with reflections and perspectives from a panel of individuals that have developed and maintained partnerships at other institutions across the country.

“I think we are very well positioned to keep moving onward and upward in our efforts to engage our MSI colleagues in intellectually and culturally responsive ways,” said Edmund Graham, Rackham’s minority serving institutions coordinator. “My hope is that this meeting signaled to stakeholders on both ends that we are serious about engaging our colleagues with the goal of collectively strengthening pathways for MSI students to and through graduate and professional education and into their careers.”