A time for institutional self-discovery

February 2024

Dear alumni, friends, and supporters,

I am excited to share with you the significant strides we are making in the University of Michigan’s Inclusive History Project. 

Launched in June 2022, the Inclusive History Project will tell a more complex and inclusive history of our university, one that spans more than 200 years and stretches across our three campuses and Michigan Medicine. It will address our successes as well as our failures in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, providing an opportunity for institutional self-discovery and compelling us to look deeply into our past and take actionable steps toward a more inclusive present and future.

Shared values

The Inclusive History Project is a presidential initiative that grew from our 2017 bicentennial and builds upon several existing efforts. We delve into projects like the Presidential Bicentennial Colloquia’s ‘Stumbling Blocks’ exhibit, the Bentley Historical Library’s African American Student Project, and the process of reviewing historical names on buildings. Each of these efforts lays a foundation for a more nuanced understanding and acknowledgment of our past. The project also builds upon other U-M efforts, including our first five-year diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan, current anti-racism initiatives, and the culture journey to establish shared values.

During the project’s crucial planning phase, a framing and design committee comprising 22 faculty, staff, and students from across our campuses charted the scope, stakeholder engagement, and an organizational structure to advance the project’s mission. Their work has been pivotal, shaping the trajectory of the project over the next five years.

Revitalizing relationships

Our plan for the Inclusive History Project takes a comprehensive approach, including developing new courses; reimagining our institutional narrative through diverse mediums like exhibits, campus tours, and digital platforms; and revitalizing our community relationships. We also envision changes in our institutional landscape, such as new monuments, public art, and building names. These efforts are designed to address the contemporary effects of historical and systemic racism, as well as other forms of discrimination and exclusion.

In line with these broad goals, we recently launched the project’s research and engagement fund. This fund supports projects that educate and raise awareness about our University’s past concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are inviting proposals for two types of grants – mini-grants and large grants – to foster research and engagement projects that resonate with the program’s objectives. These projects will not only contribute to our understanding of the past but also inform our path forward.

I’m pleased to share updates on a project that underscores our commitment to understanding and honoring the diverse narratives that constitute our shared history. I encourage you to read more about our work at the Inclusive History Project’s new website. Together, we can forge a legacy that not only honors our past but also opens the way to a brighter, more inclusive, and more equitable future.


Santa J. Ono, PhD
President, University of Michigan


  1. Om P. Gandhi - 1961–Sc.D.

    I had a great learning experience studying in E.E. Dept. at the U-M.


  2. Mike Jefferson - 1982

    Can you elucidate the vision of what “inclusiveness” and “equity” includes? Would you be able to differentiate between the aspirations espoused by MLK and other civil rights leaders to provide for equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome, i.e. communism, aka “equity”? Who defines these parameters, how are they implemented, and enforced? To me, these concepts are very divisive, racist, totalitarian, and anti-Constitutional.


  3. Chris Campbell - Rackham '72; Law '75

    For anybody who needs a short course on the meanings of and need for inclusiveness and equity, I recommend one of this year’s Academy Award nominees for short documentaries, “The Barber of Little Rock.” In a short film, the maker explores historic racial inequities in wealth accumulation, capital availability, and treatment based on skin color. I just saw it this afternoon and was moved by it. All of these things have been known and discussed for years; the movie just illustrates the issues. It is notable that the only people who seem to believe that we live in an age of equal opportunity are certain of my fellow white folks. And those are mostly ones who have had the least contact with people of other ethnicity or national origins.


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