Prioritizing Care, Support, Education and Prevention (July 15, 2021)

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Today, President Schlissel and the Board of Regents announced several new initiatives and actions that will change the university for the better. As noted below, these actions were informed by input from hundreds of people from across the University of Michigan community. UM-Dearborn always welcomes improvements that will help our campus more accurately reflect our culture and core values. 

The soon-to-be-implemented changes will directly impact the Dearborn campus in several ways. Firstly, we will establish an Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, which will house many of the critical functions around equity and civil rights work, including Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other forms of discrimination. This office replaces and subsumes the university’s Office for Institutional Equity, and will report directly to the Office of the Chancellor. Our current Director of OIE, Pam Heatlie, will lead the ECRT office. 

Secondly, the newly-created ECRT office will also expand to include an additional position to help investigate reports of sexual misconduct, among other duties. The new ECRT position will be posted soon with the aim of beginning this important work this fall. 

Thirdly, the Violence Prevention and Response Initiatives program manager, presently sitting in a temporary position funded via a DOJ grant, will be moved to a permanent post on our campus. Both positions will help better protect and support survivors of sexual violence or harassment on our campus.

The university is also implementing new policies immediately to address workplace relationships. Supervisors are now prohibited from initiating or attempting to initiate an intimate relationship with a supervisee or those with whom they have the authority to influence career or employment status. 

Additionally, the Board of Regents now holds the power to revoke emeriti status if new and compelling evidence of wrongdoing is revealed after a faculty member retires. 

Finally, last fall I asked Pam Heatlie to work with members of our campus community to conduct a climate survey on our campus, which she was preparing to launch. We are now attempting to coordinate our efforts with a University-wide undertaking. Once initiated, I encourage everyone to participate in this survey. The findings will significantly help the University of Michigan continue its evaluation of our culture and allow all of the campuses to continue being some of the best institutions of higher learning in the world.

I welcome and support all of the changes initiated by President Schlissel and the Board of Regents. We must act on the values that we espouse. Taking action will make UM-Dearborn a better and safer place to learn for our students and a more supportive and accountable place of work for faculty and staff. 


Domenico Grasso 


To All Members of the University Community:

Today, members of the Board of Regents and I announced several actions that will systemically change how the University of Michigan prioritizes the principles of care, support and education in the prevention and adjudication of sexual misconduct.

Our goal is simple: to transform our university and its culture to reflect the core beliefs of our community.

Today’s announcements are informed by the input of hundreds of people within our community, as well as national best practices. This includes faculty and staff who have been engaged in these issues for years, students who have shared their experiences, and committed members of our faculty governance groups. I thank everyone who has contributed to this work.

As president of this university, and on behalf of the regents and university community, let me say today and always to those who may have suffered harm, that we believe you and we value you. We want you to come forward with trust and confidence in our systems and without the fear of retaliation.

The changes and actions reflect our community’s need for a safe and supportive university, the accountability that must be the foundation of our shared future, and a culture that fosters an environment of mutual respect and support for all. For any organization to truly change, it must first ask whether its current culture reflects its desired values and behaviors. Answering that question requires us to evaluate all facets of our university and commit to necessary changes.
The key points of today’s announcements are below, and you can also read more details and additional updates in the University Record.

New Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office

The new Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office (ECRT) will focus on care, support, education and prevention. It replaces the Office for Institutional Equity, reports directly to the university president, and adds about a dozen positions to assist members of our community.

For instance, the office will have equity specialists to provide help and care both apart from and throughout the investigation process, and a resolutions officer who will track outcomes and ensure follow-up. This will improve the university’s investigative practices and provide oversight of sanctionable resolutions.

A new department within ECRT called Prevention, Education, Assistance and Resources will build on our leadership in the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and provide similarly high quality and comprehensive prevention education and support for faculty and staff.

To lead the ECRT, I have appointed Tamiko Strickman as special advisor to the president and executive director of equity, civil rights and Title IX. Tami’s leadership has been pivotal as we worked through these changes, and she is the right person to lead us into this new era of better preventing and addressing misconduct and discrimination in our community.

Additionally, to further collaboration with our community, we have established a Title IX advisory committee of students, faculty and staff to provide perspectives and input on policies, procedures, prevention efforts and other matters.

New University Policies

Two new policies that go into effect immediately address potential issues of trust and accountability.

  • Supervisors are prohibited from initiating or attempting to initiate an intimate relationship with a supervisee or those they have the authority to influence the career or employment status of. Trust among our faculty members, staff, students and the community requires that all relationships on and off our campus are regarded with the utmost respect and that workplace power differentials are addressed properly. This new policy is at the forefront of such work nationally and directly confronts power differentials and the potential for exploitation and favoritism in the workplace.
  • Another systemic policy change we are making immediately enables the Board of Regents to revoke emeritus and emerita status when new and compelling facts and circumstances become known and evaluated after a faculty member retires. The standard for emeritus and emerita status at a place like U-M is and should be set with the highest sense of responsibility.

Culture Change Working Group and Surveys

We will conduct a climate survey regarding sexual misconduct for faculty and staff, and over the next two semesters we will be launching a culture survey that will ask everyone to help define our desired values and behaviors.

This work will support the cultural journey that will engage our community in the enunciation of a set of unifying, shared values and set a lasting standard for campus behaviors, systems and practices we can all be proud of.

I have appointed a working group that will oversee the development of a university-wide statement of shared values and desired behaviors through a process that will include robust engagement with faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders across all three campuses and Michigan Medicine.

A More Supportive and Accountable University 

I want to express my thanks to everyone whose commitment to a better U-M is making us a more supportive and accountable university. Your important contributions, along with the leadership of the regents and the work done by external firm Guidepost Solutions, together have inspired us to redouble our efforts to address the harms and the pain experienced by too many in our community and prevent them in the future.

The regents, leadership team and I are committed to getting this right, and we will provide frequent updates as new work is completed and accountability measures are reported.

The journey to a better Michigan will be ongoing – as we strive to be a place where all in our community feel the respect, safety and support they deserve, where everyone can pursue their dreams and ambitions, and where we live up to the highest standards of excellence as a leading public university.


Mark S. Schlissel 

Office of the Chancellor

1070 - Administration Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5500
Fax: 313-593-5204