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University of Michigan commits $79M to hire 30 professors from various backgrounds, experiences

University of Michigan commits $79M to hire 30 professors from various backgrounds, experiences
University of Michigan commits $79M to hire 30 professors from various backgrounds, experiences 03:09

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - The University of Michigan has announced it is investing $79 million to hire 30 new assistant professors from a wide array of backgrounds as part of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. 

U of M will be investing $63.7 million from its own funds and $15.6 million from a National Institutes for Health grant for the initiative. 

Robert Sellers, U of M professor of psychology and a co-coordinator for the program, said diversity should be central to the university experience. 

"It's based on the fundamental notion that in order for us to be excellent, it's important that we have diverse perspectives, that if you want to create new knowledge and innovation, there's tons of research that shows you want diverse experiences, you want diverse ideas and diverse perspectives," he said. 

Sellers said the "M-PACT Scholars" will not be considered solely based on race, gender, or social identity. What the university is looking for is a wide array of experiences in relation to their respective fields. 

"The goal for this program, though, is not race or gender-based … it's really a demonstrated, long-term commitment to addressing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the health sciences and the biomedical sciences," he said. 

Following a nationwide search, the new faculty members will be hired across 11 schools at the university. 

"I think it's just really important for the school to get a variety of experiences from multiple backgrounds," said student Sara Fang. "Personally, I've found that the professors that I've worked with that come from different backgrounds, I think, offered a lot of unique experiences for me that I may not have gotten with my previous schooling, which is why I just think it's really important for the school to invest in this project." 

"I think it's great that the university is taking steps to bring in professors with diverse backgrounds and social identifies," said student Renee Boudreau. "But, I also think that the university has a track record of not listening to students, so this should be one of many steps and I hope that they'll get feedback from students on how this is working and what further steps they need to take." 

Sellers said the new program is a step in the right direction since the health science departments traditionally have lacked diverse representation. His role in the initiative is also a fitting one. 

"I was the university's first chief diversity officer," he said. "I was actually the third person in charge of this area at the university. I'm very proud of the work that we've done, and I'm even more excited about our future and the work that's going forward." 

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