Culture is Key
When it comes to the most important aspects of a successful engineering school, the culture may not be the first to come to mind. Yet Michigan Engineering is making it a major focus.
From early in the strategic planning process, College leaders knew it would benefit the organization if there was a shared sense of purpose and action, backed by behaviors that reflected its values.
“When we outlined the vision, mission and values for the College, we did so with the knowledge that nothing was broken, but that there was an opportunity to be intentional about who we already are, and what our legacy will be,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “The results were a reflection of our community, which is why it has resonated so strongly with our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
This laid the groundwork for our strategic plan, in which “culture” is one of the three pillars of focus, alongside “research” and “education.” The work within that pillar emphasizes the College’s values, and how those impact the achievement of its goals.
“The values directly support our vision of being the preeminent college of engineering serving the common good,” said Gallimore, who is also the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and a professor of aerospace engineering. “To be preeminent, you must lead, and in order to lead, you must be willing to take risks and be creative, transparent and collaborative. In other words, to achieve our vision, we must live our values.”
In an organization as complex and large as ours, if we really want to accomplish new things and stay true to our mission, then we have to make sure our core values are imbued in our culture. We need to make sure our actual day-to-day practice is consistent with and supports our values.Michael Wellman
Richard H. Orenstein Division Chair of Computer Science and Engineering, Lynn A. Conway Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and former associate dean for academic affairs
The College has come to understand that culture must permeate all aspects of an organization’s processes. It is a natural fit with strategy, according to Deborah Mero, senior executive director of resource planning and management at the College and co-leader of the culture pillar. In fact, it’s essential.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Mero said.
DEI strategic plan
U-M launch of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategic plan and DEI Implementation Campaign, reinforcing our priorities
Begin vision, mission and values awareness campaign
Establish Promotion & Tenure Criteria study group
Hearing from faculty
Launch open forums for faculty to discuss strategic ideas with the dean during 3Ds (faculty conversations)
Hosting campus events
Launch two-year series: cultureXchange, creativityXchange; impactXchange, daringXchange
Hearing from staff
Dean gathers feedback directly from staff during ABCs (staff breakfast conversations)
Roll out new promotion and tenure criteria
Training on inclusive teaching for all new instructors
New DEI director position created, Sara Pozzi appointed
Staff creativity, innovation and daring (CID) committee proposal submitted
Launch faculty and staff incentive program pilots
Climate survey follow-up
Action plan for response to faculty DEI climate survey, addressing cultural foundations of DEI
Staff incentive program launches
Staff CID (Creativity, Innovation, Daring) committee launches new staff incentive programs