President Santa J. Ono wearing a blue suit jacket smiling and standing with his arms crossed.
Dear Alumni and Friends,

When we describe the contributions of a research institution like the University of Michigan to its community, we usually measure it in terms of students educated, faculty awarded, research conducted, jobs created or dollars contributed to the economy. 

But there’s something else – something that a person feels when they attend a concert at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium or stroll through a gallery at our Museum of Art – that is just as critical to who we are, even if it is a bit harder to quantify.

U-M always has served as a regional hub for cultural and artistic activity and innovation. This week, we doubled-down on continuing that legacy of creativity through a commitment of $20 million over the next five years toward our Arts Initiative. The funding will accelerate transformative discovery and impact through the arts among our students, faculty and staff, and across our region and community. 

The arts draw us together as a campus and a community. They provoke thought and provide meaning. And artistic creativity, coupled with the rigor of the sciences, can provide the insights needed to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. 

Specific goals for our Arts Initiative include activating interdisciplinary discovery and arts research, as well as strengthening the student learning experience in the arts by ensuring that every undergraduate has the opportunity to engage with the arts during their time at U-M. The initiative also aims to broaden and deepen our connections with our partners and our community to make Michigan an even more compelling destination for artists and creatives locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. 

I look forward to what we can create together in the years to come. 

An important update on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

Earlier this month, university leaders shared a report outlining the impact of the first five years of the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plan, something we call DEI 1.0. 

The report highlights many areas where we’ve seen real progress, including increased representation among first-generation students and those who are Pell Grant recipients. I’m especially impressed by the successes of our Wolverine Pathways program, which works in partnership with the families, schools and communities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Southfield and Ypsilanti to provide free, year-round learning experiences to help students succeed in school, college and future careers. Students who successfully complete the program and are admitted to our Ann Arbor or Dearborn campuses receive a full-tuition scholarship.

Still, the report also reminds us where we’ve fallen short. While data shows that the number of Black students on campus increased from 2016, for example, it was not to a level that kept up with the growing student body overall. 

There still is work to be done. The university’s second five-year initiative – DEI 2.0 – will launch in October.