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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Michigan State is dedicated to providing opportunity through education and building the future of Michigan and the nation with the talent and contributions of individuals from all backgrounds and communities. We will advance equity by eliminating race and ethnicity opportunity gaps across all subgroups of students by 2030.

Michigan State University has long been an innovator and leader in the work of diversity, equity and inclusion. In 1870, women enrolled for the first time in the then-named Michigan Agricultural College, and in 1904 the first known Black student graduated. During John Hannah’s long presidency, civil rights became one of MSU’s key initiatives, and Hannah served as the first chair of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights under President Eisenhower. Michigan State’s work to remove barriers helped change norms and create opportunity.

The university’s many efforts in more recent decades are extensive and multifaceted as it has evolved to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse campus community. These included creating the precursor to the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities and extending in-state tuition to migrant students in the early 1970s, establishing the Native American Institute in the early 1980s, and creating the Julian Samora Research Institute in 1989 to serve the needs of Latinx communities. More about Michigan State’s inclusive outreach and programmatic initiatives is available on the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives website at

MSU’s longstanding commitment to DEI is reflected in numerous policies, programs, initiatives and practices led by units across campus. A decentralized approach has produced a variety of strong efforts and exceptional creativity, but also has reduced MSU’s ability to optimize and scale success. The institutional DEI planning process completed in parallel with university strategic planning provided an opportunity to review and improve MSU’s approach. The DEI Steering Committee and its benchmarking task group identified central planning with local execution, combined with central progress tracking, as a best practice for research-intensive institutions. MSU’s DEI plan, comprising four primary themes, serves as a framework to be further articulated and put into practice by the university’s academic and administrative units. The plan, which includes Michigan State University’s definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion, is available on the Office of the President website at

The MSU strategic plan does not seek to duplicate the DEI plan — nor does it compete with it. It serves to amplify, elevate and leverage elements from the DEI plan that can help transform our university and ensure more equitable outcomes for all. A focus on DEI is so vital to our collective future that it serves as both a stand-alone theme within the strategic plan and is embedded throughout all other themes.

The strategic plan’s DEI theme emphasizes the DEI plan’s “Diversity” theme. Simply stated, we cannot serve a diverse local, national and global society if our community does not reflect that diversity and support the success of its members in an inclusive and equitable way. Further, the strategic plan brings forward elements that promote diversity, equity and inclusion across MSU’s core missions.

Goal: Become a national leader in increasing diversity, promoting inclusion, ensuring equity and eliminating disparities on our campus and beyond

Objective 1

Recruit and support the success of a more diverse student body: Recruit, retain and graduate a diverse student body and eliminate disparities in MSU’s graduation rates


  • Expand precollege and pathway programs with the goal of supporting underrepresented, first-generation, Pell-Grant-eligible and economically disadvantaged students
  • Create early start programs with the goal of supporting low-income, first-generation and historically underrepresented first-year students
  • Create specialized academic support services, one-credit courses and learning communities to provide students with additional assistance
  • Increase number of advisers to address the needs of students at high risk of attrition and do outreach to students who have stopped progress toward their degrees (particularly those with low numbers of courses necessary to complete their degrees)
  • Expand the number of graduate student fellowships with the goal to recruit and retain students whose enrollment will enhance diversity and academic excellence

Objective 2

Dramatically increase MSU faculty who make significant contributions to advancing social justice and ethics, ensuring equity, addressing disparities and empowering communities through scholarship and engaged research


  • Develop and implement within five years an initiative similar in scale and scope to MSU’s Global Impact Initiative (an effort to hire approximately 100 faculty in seven priority areas to address global challenges through research) to bring to MSU tenure-system faculty whose focus is in areas of equity, social justice, racial disparities, underrepresented populations or related areas of study
  • Pursue thematic or cluster hires in colleges and departments to enhance innovation in teaching, learning, research and service and improve the overall satisfaction and experience of students and faculty
  • Incorporate DEI best practices into all college and department recruitment and retention processes
  • Create college-level programs to support transition of postdoctoral research associates from historically underrepresented groups and diverse backgrounds into tenure-system positions
  • Develop mentorship and early-career support programs to improve retention of faculty from historically underrepresented groups

Objective 3

Recruit, retain and expand career development for staff from diverse backgrounds


  • Create staff diversity hiring toolkits, providing supervisors and managers with resources to effectively incorporate DEI recruitment and retention principles
  • Develop a staff diversity program to help ensure diversity throughout the campus at all levels of employment, foster an inclusive work environment with a welcoming climate and link staff diversity efforts to efforts of the broader MSU community
  • Assess engagement with DEI efforts and effectiveness of strategies through regular climate surveys

Objective 4

Provide a world-class academic environment that integrates DEI in teaching, research and service


  • Establish a teaching and learning center that specializes in and deepens understanding of DEI in teaching, learning and outreach, creating opportunities for all university stakeholders and delivering programs that enhance the ability of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members to engage with diverse people and communities
  • Update curricula by infusing DEI components throughout degree programs, minor programs and general education courses
  • Offer seed grants and strategic investment funding for research on DEI-related topics
  • Recognize faculty accomplishments in DEI, including prestigious professorships associated with DEI work and awards for research, teaching and service

Objective 5

Increase proactive engagement with historically underrepresented and underserved communities based on partnerships informed by shared goals and mutual learning


  • Increase services and programs provided through MSU Extension and Office of Outreach and Engagement in support of historically underrepresented and underserved communities
  • Encourage colleges with existing outreach and engagement activities to further incorporate DEI into planning and activities and deepen our partnerships with communities based on mutual commitment to shared goals
  • Increase participation of undergraduate students representing diverse identities and backgrounds in community-engaged learning experiences
  • Provide annual reports to campus on connections developed with historically underrepresented and underserved communities and on success of programs dedicated to engaging with communities to respond to concerns they express

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Illustrative Indicators/Metrics

  • Eliminate race and ethnicity opportunity gaps across all subgroups of students by 2030
  • Recruitment and retention of students from diverse backgrounds (increase)
  • Undergraduate student population that reflects the composition of high school graduates in Michigan
  • Percent graduation gap across all subgroups of students
  • University sponsorship of and faculty contributions to scholarship in leading journals publishing research related to historically underrepresented populations, social inequities, social justice and/or racial disparities (and related areas) (increase)
  • Recruitment and retention of faculty from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds (increase)
  • Recruitment and retention of academic and nonacademic staff from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds (increase)
  • Academic and nonacademic staff who have received training in DEI best practices in higher education (increase)
  • Teaching and Learning Center fully operational by 2025
  • Percent of courses including DEI values/topics in syllabus (increase)

Department of African American and African Studies

The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) in the College of Arts and Letters, established in 2019, exemplifies the university’s commitment to build strength in areas that advance equity, ethics and social justice.

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Diversity Research Network

Launched in 2016, the Diversity Research Network (DRN) connects faculty of color and diversity scholars to create scholarly communities and promote new interdisciplinary collaborations.

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