Frequently asked questions about our Culture Journey submitted by faculty and staff, organized by theme:

Scope of the Culture Journey

Who is involved in the Culture Journey and what areas is it focused on?

The Culture Journey is gathering the input of Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine faculty and staff to identify shared values, including definitions and associated behaviors and norms. These behaviors and norms will inspire a safe and supportive workplace.

Why aren’t students part of the Culture Journey?

The scope of the values identification initiative is specific to faculty and staff, as it focuses on identifying behaviors that guide workplace behaviors and norms. The student population has a set of values that are outlined in the student code of conduct to guide their behavior.

Why aren’t UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint part of the Culture Journey?

The current scope of the working group is to focus on the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine. Separate work is underway on the Dearborn and Flint campuses to address campus-specific priorities and evaluate next steps in their culture journey. Individuals seeking more information about UM-Flint’s next steps can contact or For more information about UM-Dearborn priorities and next steps in their culture journey, contact

Data Collection

Can we see responses to the poll by race, ethnicity and/or gender?

Responses to the poll can be presented by work location and type of employee (faculty or staff). Respondents were not asked to provide their race, ethnicity or gender.

When you conducted focus groups and sent the pulse poll, how did you reach a cross section of our employee population? How are you ensuring you reach all populations?

  • The request to complete the poll was sent via email to all faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine.
  • The specific employee groups who were targeted to participate in our focus groups were identified by the working group. To fill focus groups, the Culture Change Core Planning Team worked with Human Resources Records and Information Services to pull a random stratified sample of the population that met demographics for each focus group. Examples of groups that participated are: faculty, staff (north campus, student life, staff of academic units, staff of business units), leaders of business units, leaders of academic units, and Michigan Medicine.
  • Additional focus groups are being planned as recommended in the working group’s report submitted to the executive officers to ensure representation of as many community members as possible.

Who is the Culture Change Working Group accountable to?

The working group provides its recommendations to the university’s executive officers and the Board of Regents.

How are you evaluating the effectiveness of your initiatives?

The work to date has focused on collecting information from the community regarding our values as an institution and their thoughts about our desired culture. The working group has recommended that, as the work continues, metrics be developed to evaluate the success of future work.

Will the culture efforts be staffed, the way that U-M created the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Currently, Sonya Jacobs, chief organizational learning officer and senior director of faculty and leadership development for the Medical School, also serves as special advisor to the president on culture change. Her role is to advise the president and executive leadership and to help lead the university’s efforts on cultural change regarding ethics, values and compliance. A planning team consisting of staff from Organizational Learning has been leading the work to identify unifying shared values.

Community Engagement

Have you engaged the employee resource groups to create the culture journey strategy?

The working group, who helped to inform the culture journey strategy’s initial phases of work, had representation from Voices of the Staff, CEW+ and SACUA. More engagement with employee resource groups is planned in 2023.

How is the culture change effort eliciting and considering diversity of thought to ensure the entire community’s voice is heard and needs are met?

Diversity is a guiding principle in the culture change efforts. Some of the ways in which we have engaged our campus community include:

  • All faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus and in Michigan Medicine received an email request to fill out the pulse polls
  • Members of the working group include wide representation from schools, colleges and units across the university
  • Focus group composition was intentionally designed so that there was broad representation from across the university
  • Information sessions were presented to committees and groups across the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine
  • Virtual town hall community information sessions were held in May and September to share progress updates with the university community
  • Consistent with our universitywide communications plan, we will continue large scale efforts to reach all members of the community via email. We will also promote ways to participate in the culture journey on this website and in the University Record. We will provide updates about the culture journey to university leaders so they may also disseminate information to their staff.

Will there be an opportunity to increase connection and elevate transparency through developing regular community town halls with President Ono?

President Ono is committed to increasing connection and transparency with students, staff and faculty. For that reason, he is doing many types of engagement activities across our community.

Developing and Integrating Values

What happens after the values are chosen?

After the values are identified, definitions and associated behaviors will be co-created with the input of community members. Best practice integrates values and associated behaviors into hiring and promotion processes, development, rewards and recognition, and decision making.

What is being done to communicate and carry out best practices for culture change across the university to break down silos and avoid reinventing the wheel?

We are committed to regular communication with those engaged in similar work to ensure alignment and reduce duplication of efforts. In March 2022, we held a mini summit with other offices engaged in culture change across the university to discuss initiatives, timelines and areas for collaboration. We will continue similar communications over time.

The culture change core planning team also works closely with the Culture Oversight and Alignment Committee in Michigan Medicine to support alignment and coordination of culture change efforts.

How does this initiative plan to amplify best practices already occurring in schools, colleges and units to support culture change?

We are beginning to collect examples of best practices across our schools, colleges and units to highlight culture change efforts that are underway. If you have a best practice in your area you would like to share and amplify, please contact

My unit already has values. What should my unit do with these workplace values?

We suggest that units with existing values discuss what U-M’s values mean for them, explore where there is overlap and where integration can occur. Units should explore how they want to proceed as it pertains to the relationship between the unit’s values and the university’s values. 

If you would like support to determine how to navigate the relationship between your unit values and the university’s values, please reach out to A toolkit for units will be available in the near future.  

U-M Policy and Procedures

How does U-M strive to prevent retaliation?

The university strives to prevent retaliation by articulating in the Protection from Retaliation Policy that retaliation is not permitted and by educating the university community about the policy and the related resources.

How does U-M ensure that people feel safe reporting concerns?

Members of the university community have several options to report concerns, as spelled out in the Protection from Retaliation Policy, including anonymous and confidential options. The range of options for reporting concerns (or to explore the options for reporting concerns) enables the individual to select an option that feels safe to them.

What is being done to address understaffing?

On a national level, all industries have experienced unprecedented staffing challenges and we have not been spared the impact of this development. The recruitment and retention of faculty and staff remains a critical, ongoing priority and efforts have been undertaken to increase the visibility and attractiveness of roles across the university. While the impact of the pandemic has slowed faculty recruitment, recent efforts have resulted in increased hiring and progress toward our end of the fiscal year projections. In terms of staff, many hiring leaders work with Talent Acquisition on the Ann Arbor campus and in Michigan Medicine. The Nurse Recruitment and Retention team has also done an amazing job of attracting talent and streamlining the selection process, and we are seeing positive results from recent in-person hiring events and job fairs. In Michigan Medicine, an increased focus on attracting new applicants through targeted events and social media outreach has resulted in more applicants for our critical positions. Visit Talent Acquisition for more resources and helpful information for hiring departments.

What is the university doing to support disability culture? How do we ensure disabled and other multiply-marginalized members of the U-M community are valued and included equitably?

Supporting disability culture on campus is an important facet of our work to make U-M more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Over the course of our initial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 5-Year Strategic Plan (DEI 1.0) we listened. Through partnerships with members of the disability community, we continue to learn how we can better address disability culture in our efforts to make U-M a welcoming place where all members can learn, grow and thrive. This work to strengthen and center disability culture at U-M will remain an area of focus as we move into the next iteration of our DEI Strategic Plan, DEI 2.0. The following is a sample listing of initiatives and resources—from central administration, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and various campus partners—that are designed to support and enhance the experiences of disabled individuals at U-M. In addition to these centralized efforts, many initiatives are also underway across the 50 schools, colleges and units involved with the DEI Strategic Plan initiative.

  • The university is centralizing disability resources into a single hub in a new central URL: This clearinghouse of accessibility and accommodations for disabled students, faculty and staff offers comprehensive guidance for all units and individuals.
  • To enable full and equitable participation for individuals with disabilities, the University of Michigan recently released the Standard Practice Guide (SPG) on Electronic and Information Technology. This policy is an important part of U-M’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in that accessible design benefits the entire university community, including individuals with a variety of identities. It is intended to set forth a framework that units, faculty, staff and users can use to establish, maintain and improve accessible electronic and information technology (EIT) at U-M.
  • Each month, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion convenes leaders in the disability community across campus to share updates on various disability initiatives and projects in their units. The monthly meetings were initiated to encourage collaboration and foster a supportive community among those leading this important work. The group works together to discuss and address various issues affecting the disability community on campus.
  • For the past two years, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has hosted a colloquial series of events throughout Disability Community Month, Toward an Anti-Ableist Academy. The series invites the campus community to learn more about creating a welcoming university climate that actively works toward embracing disability culture and experiences.
  • Over the course of the five years of DEI 1.0, the University of Michigan spent over one million dollars to:
    • Remove physical barriers for individuals with disabilities
    • Develop a map of general fund buildings that shows accessible routes, parking and building features
    • Introduce training accessibility modules for new building project reviews, building inspectors, the Facility User Network, and campus design managers
  • The Student Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Board was formalized in Year Three of the initial DEI 1.0 Strategic Plan, and is executing a wide array of initiatives to ensure that U-M’s infrastructure supports students (as well as faculty and staff) who are or may be impacted by barriers within the university culture relating to disability, accessibility or ableism. To date, actions have been taken on 48 of the Board’s recommendations.
  • The Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office recently approved the hiring of two additional American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who will work full time at the university. They will prioritize meeting employee and event interpretation needs, with opportunities to provide education/training to the campus to increase awareness, accessibility and inclusion. In addition, the office now has central funds to cover CART interpretation services for employees and events (for areas that are not already funded).
  • The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), in partnership with community members, developed and delivered numerous presentations on digital accessibility for instructors. Universal Design for Learning principles were introduced to LSA’s Science Learning Center, Sweetland Writing Center and Comprehensive Studies Program.
  • The Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) and other entities worked both independently and in collaboration to ensure greater accessibility to safety and emergency response.
  • View this article featuring Dr. Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, the director of Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services. In addition to a number of student resources, it talks about the creation of the LSA Faculty and Staff Disability Navigator roles that have been extremely beneficial to the disability community. They have streamlined and centralized funding for employee accommodations, aiming to deliver the support employees need to do their best work. The Navigators are sharing their service model, as it evolves, to encourage its adoption by other schools and colleges at U-M and beyond.