WMU's diversity training programs advance our values, comply with federal regulations

Dear faculty and staff,

Earlier this year, with the support and encouragement of the Board of Trustees, we recommitted ourselves to building a truly inclusive society and campus. In response, we are taking action on several fronts. Among them is diversity training, which makes a crucial impact on our path to meeting the full measure of our promise.

This fall, President Trump issued an executive order that has led some organizations to suspend diversity training programs provided to their employees. With due diligence, we have reviewed the diversity programming WMU offers to faculty and staff and have determined our practices do not, based on our examination, conflict in any way with the executive order that took effect Saturday, Nov. 21. However, the examination did underscore, once again, the great value of intercultural education.

We will continue to provide access to diversity, equity and inclusion—DEI—trainings throughout campus. Resources include trainings within Diversity Education in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, LBGT Student Services, the Office of Institutional Equity, Human Resources and the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. For further assistance in learning more about DEI trainings, you can contact any of these offices, which can assist you with internal and external resources.

The examination of the executive order gives us the opportunity to reinforce our values. At Western, we strongly believe now is not the time to pause, much less stop, the important work we are doing through our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and trainings. The injustices history teaches us about—and throughout 2020 we have seen play out on our screens, our social media feeds or in our communities—prove there has never been a more important time to commit to strengthening our ability to look within ourselves so we may serve as a source of strength to others. 

For instance, the recent launching of the Professional Development Institute: Building Cultural Competencies is one important example of our efforts to expand our training capacity. We also are engaging in other efforts to continue and to expand our commitment. The newly formed Racial Justice Advisory Committee with its nine workgroups, the Mountaintop Initiatives and the just-completed Campus Climate Survey are just some of the additional steps we have taken toward our goal.

These are important institutional steps. However, let us not lose sight that each of us plays a critical role in fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus. As a University community, if we are to make progress around social equity, we must be willing to both listen to the voices and perspectives of others and examine how our own worldview has been uniquely shaped by the world we have experienced from our birth until today. When we then link our individual insights, we can collectively begin to ask questions about the pillars that allow structural racism and other forms of inequity and exclusion to persist.

Western Michigan University will never stop striving to help our students pursue their purpose, thrive in a life well-lived and prosper in a meaningful career. Our responsibility is to foster graduates who are prepared to go forth and help those around them—throughout the world—do the same. It would be impossible to do so without a firm and steadfast commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.


Edward Montgomery