In 1990, then President James Duderstadt, together with then Vice Provost for Minority Affairs, Charles D. Moody Sr., proposed a research initiative, specifically directed towards undergraduates, that would begin to examine the impact of the university’s multicultural programming and curriculum efforts.
The impetus for the project initially grew out of discussions within the President’s Advisory Counsel for Multicultural Affairs (PACMA), that highlighted a need to better understand the challenges that the campus faced with respect to student intergroup relations. Committee members were also particularly interested in understanding the experiences and perceptions that students may have had with ethnic/racial diversity prior to attending the university. In the process, the Council also discovered that very little was understood about overall student perceptions and satisfaction with undergraduate education at Michigan. Thus, the project was broadened to examine many aspects of the general academic and nonacademic experience.
The University of Michigan has long been concerned with providing a campus climate conducive to the educational development of all students.
As detailed in the “Michigan Mandate” (1988), it has aggressively undertaken the challenge to become a diverse, multicultural institution. Within this mandate the university has outlined several specific goals, including: 1) equity in educational opportunities; 2) the elimination of stereotypes and discrimination within the academy; 3) the development of an understanding and appreciation of diversity both in terms of group differences and similarities; and 4) the development of positive intergroup relationships that facilitate scholarly exploration and knowledge acquisition among our students.
The initial research design, comprised of longitudinal survey data, focus groups, and one hour individual student interviews, was developed by a very diverse research team consisting of individuals from various administrative and academic posts throughout the university as well as many undergraduate and graduate students. This collaboration of individuals from administrative and academic departments resulted in an integrated study design that reflects the recommendations of both academics and policy makers, while facilitating a direct link between scholarly research and policy implementation.