Dear Alumni and Friends,

As president of a major university, I am often asked what keeps me awake at night. My answer is always the same: the safety and wellbeing of our students. This has been especially true in recent weeks as our country has experienced the latest incidents in a seemingly endless chain of mass shootings that have plagued the United States for far too long. My concern for our students and our community is not unique at U-M. It fuels the work of countless faculty and their research into gun violence, crime, child abuse, racism and more.

In this edition of Michigan Impact, you’ll read about the university’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and its efforts to address the root causes of, and potential solutions for, the most important issues surrounding firearm violence. This is a dire national problem that we need to solve, and it should make us all proud that U-M researchers are leading the way in addressing it.

For our campus community, and for all communities, a key element in creating an atmosphere of safety and wellbeing is promoting inclusion. It’s critical that everyone is welcomed, seen and celebrated. Jim Toy understood this. As a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights at U-M and beyond, and as the co-founder (with Cindy Gair) of the office that would later become the Spectrum Center, he reminded us all that with love, respect, and a shared sense of purpose, we can accomplish great things together. He would say, “We are climbing the mountain of justice, hand in hand!” 

Jim passed away earlier this year after decades of working to make our community more tolerant, fair and inclusive. This Pride Month, let us hope we all can draw lessons from how he lived his life, and work together, across differences, toward a safer, healthier and more just society for everyone.