Care and Equity Task Force Statement

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every facet of higher education. Almost overnight the University of Michigan-Dearborn made the sudden transition to remote teaching and learning, enacted changes in grading systems and faced the loss of access to a variety of research resources. Additionally, shifts in household labor, childcare, eldercare, and physical confinement increased faculty and staff care obligations. These increases and demands also impacted faculty, staff, and student mental health. Despite all of these challenges, fostering student success has remained at the center of our work. In order to continue to effectively care for and support our students, we must also care for ourselves, our dependents, our communities, and each other.

The pandemic also highlights the many inequities that structure our workplaces and communities. The spread of COVID-19 has expanded care burdens and brought existing care needs – of individuals, members of families and communities – into sharp relief. These efforts are often rendered invisible and are even heavier for those who face intersecting systems of oppression, such as ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, age, economic class, dependent status, and/or ability. For these reasons UM-Dearborn aims to develop and enact solutions to promote an equitable culture of care. 

Since March, campus leadership has addressed these issues by offering tenure-clock extensions to faculty, paid time-off banks to staff, extended pass/fail options to students, and other opportunities to expand flexibility. In addition, they have enhanced support for mental health, work/life balance, responsibility to self and others, and delivery of remote learning.

Considering the realities of the ongoing stress of the pandemic, we will collectively build upon these initial efforts to make the care work that is essential to our campus and community both visible and valuable. We are committed to fostering sustainable practices that outlast the pandemic and promote a culture of valuing equity and carework for the UM-Dearborn campus community.

To this end, campus leadership has established a care and equity task force to pursue these important issues, including the following:

1.     Identify and address the care needs and unequal burdens of those in our campus community, particularly among the most vulnerable, as a means of providing appropriate and adequate structural support for care. Build upon existing campus surveys and other sources of information to tailor policies and support accordingly.

2.     Realign work priorities with the wellbeing of faculty, staff and students, as well as the wider community of UM-Dearborn. Expand definitions of excellence in ways that make visible the care work that contributes to human wellbeing and development. Make central the labor that is often marginalized in standards of academic and professional excellence. Embed these values into a new approach that carries beyond the pandemic. 

3.     Address inequities for all faculty and staff through clear and effective policies, expanded resources and supports. 

4.     Encourage research, teaching and service activities that address the societal challenges of the pandemic for more just, sustainable futures. 

We will achieve this work by conducting a needs assessment, providing resource information, and making policy recommendations to senior leadership, ensuring resources are equitably and consistently allocated.  In September, we made presentations to the Staff and Faculty Senates. In the coming weeks, we will invite the campus community to engage with this group as we solicit your ideas for what has worked well so far and what additional resources and policy changes would further support your work. We plan to provide monthly updates to the campus moving forward on a website we will share with campus.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to send the task force an email at: 


The Care and Equity Task Force

Joint Chairs: 
  • Pamela Aronson, Professor of Sociology, CASL
  • Bryan Earl, Associate Athletics Director of External Operations and Chair of the Staff Senate
  • Maureen Linker, Associate Provost, Director of Mardigian Library and Professor of Philosophy
Task Force Members: 
  • Maya Barak, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, CASL
  • Suzanne Bergeron, Helen M. Graves Collegiate Professor of Women's Studies and Social Sciences, CASL
  • Rima Berry-Hung, Human Resources Director 
  • Keisha Blevins, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor 
  • Shareia Carter, Director of the Center for Social Justice and Inclusion 
  • Monique Davis, Executive Assistant to the Dean, CEHHS
  • Marcus Harris, Lecturer, Strategy & Entrepreneurship, COB
  • Ghassan Kridli, Interim Dean, CECS
  • Lisa Martin, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Health and Human Services, CEHHS and Director, Women's and Gender Studies, CASL
  • Janelle Simmonds, Chief of Staff, Office of the Provost
  • Patricia Smith, Professor of Economics, CASL
  • Magali Valero, Associate Professor of Finance, COB
  • Tuere Wheeler, Interim Director, Internship and Career Management Center, COB
  • Armen Zakarian, Professor and Chair, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, CECS

Office of the Provost

1080 - Administration Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5030