October 1, 2020

Statement on Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

September 26, 2020

The University of Michigan is committed to creating a culture that reinforces the values of diversity, equity and inclusion so that all members of our community feel valued and can thrive. To reach that goal we must be willing to acknowledge and commit to dismantle those structures that contribute to racial inequality.

The executive order issued by the White House Sept. 22 has the potential to undermine such efforts here and across the nation. The very troubling language in this executive order seeks to ban federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, and places off limits the discussion of “divisive concepts” in federally funded training, and potentially, in organizations that receive federal grants. As noted by many, the main purpose of diversity and inclusion training is to bring the country together, not to further divide it.

We are dismayed by an executive order that is a direct violation of our right to free speech and has the potential to undermine serious efforts to acknowledge and address long-standing racist practices that fail to account for disparate treatment of our citizens throughout our society. The university will continue to examine the implications of this order and speak out against it.

The educational efforts this order seeks to prohibit are critical to much-needed action to create equitable economic and social opportunities for all members of society; to confront our blind spots; and to encourage us all to be better teachers, scholars and citizens.

We declare our unwavering commitment toward actively dismantling all forms of structural oppression as well as constructing an environment where we treat each person with dignity and respect.

Mark S. Schlissel

Susan M. Collins
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Microbiology & Immunology
Professor, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Professor, Internal Medicine

Susan M. Collins

Edward M. Gramlich Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Professor of Economics
University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy