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  • Category: Task Force Updates

    DEIS Alumni Advisory Board Announced

    Alumni house at Michigan Tech.
    The Alumni House at Michigan Tech.

    Michigan Technological University is proud to announce the launch of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Alumni Advisory Board in fall 2021. A testament to the University’s continued commitment to enhancing and improving the sense of belonging for all at Michigan Tech, this initiative is the next step in giving our campus community the culturally-responsive resources to succeed.

    The DEIS Alumni Advisory Board will unite committed volunteers of varied backgrounds to support the learning environment at Michigan Tech. This group will assist with supporting the foundation of DEIS campus and alumni initiatives. Specifically, this board will:

    • Offer guidance and feedback to the Michigan Tech President and other University leadership regarding DEIS efforts
    • Use existing networks to cultivate and support diversity initiatives aimed at student body, faculty, and staff
    • Assist in identifying resources (programs, in-kind services and philanthropic) for MTU DEIS efforts
    • Serve as mentors/contacts for incoming, current students and recent graduates
    • Serve as MTU ambassadors and facilitate University branding that promotes DEIS in identified communities and networks
    • Establish, monitor, track and evaluate benchmarks by which to define success
    • Support an inclusive environment in all things Michigan Tech

    The DEIS Alumni Advisory Board will be facilitated and co-chaired by the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement. Members will consist of committed alumni and friends representing a broad spectrum of talent from various industries. The Board will meet bi-annually for a day and half meeting. We are in the process of identifying and sending out invitations to board members for the inaugural board. Send any questions to vpdi@mtu.edu. More updates to come.


    Student DEIS Commission to be Launched

    Michigan Technological University is committed to enhancing and improving the sense of belonging for all students, and a newly created commission of students aims to reinforce these efforts. With facilitation from the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion (VPDI) and the Dean of Students (DOS), the Student Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Commission is set to launch at the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. This initiative will provide an open space for student leaders to engage with and address ongoing issues pertaining to the campus climate and the needs of diverse communities on campus. Specifically, the Student DEIS Commission will provide the opportunity and space for students to:

    • Advance and elevate student DEIS concerns and initiatives
    • Facilitate open discussion and champion progress toward an inclusive and welcoming campus environment for all members of the campus community
    • Engage with University leadership to voice priorities and the pulse of the student body related to DEIS matters
    • Collaborate with other campus organizations, offices, and students, faculty, and staff to further a sense of belonging among all people at Michigan Tech.

    The Student DEIS Commission will provide additional opportunities and compensation for students to take on leadership roles within the commission. Working together with the VPDI and DOS, this commission will meet 2-3 times per semester and will address matters concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion, identify and advocate for marginalized individuals, and provide guidance so that meaningful action can be taken.


    Telemental Health in Support of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being (CSMHW) will begin offering telemental health services through Morneau Shepell, a well-respected leader among providers of mental health services to college students. Morneau Shepell’s MySSP (Student Support Program) will help Michigan Tech meet the needs of all students and address significant issues that have prevented students from obtaining these services in the past.

    The need for additional options for mental health services has long been documented at Michigan Tech, both anecdotally and through instruments such as the 2017-18 Climate Survey. In reporting the climate survey results, the Diversity Council recognized the importance of providing accommodations and services to students. The climate survey reports—and anecdotal evidence supports—that our underrepresented minority students lack a sense of belonging and are frustrated with the lack of diversity at Michigan Tech.

    Despite our best efforts, this lack of diversity also appears among clinical staff in the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being. According to Morneau Shepell, research reported by the World Health Organization and in the Journal of American College Health shows that race, gender, orientation, and lack of diversity among clinicians are all barriers to seeking mental health support. Meeting with a therapist who shares their identity will help students break through these barriers.

    Morneau Shepell’s MySSP works to pair students with clinicians who have self-identified as having experiences or specializations associated with gender, religion, ethnicity, geography, age, and more. MySSP also offers services in many languages—students have access to English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Cantonese, and can schedule appointments in 150 other languages. In addition, the MySSP Care Access Center offers accessible services for students with hearing impairments.

    MySSP works to pair students with clinicians who have self-identified as having experiences or specializations associated with gender, religion, ethnicity, geography, age, and more.

    Finally, one of the greatest benefits of MySSP: Students have uninterrupted access to crisis assistance and can schedule appointments at any time—day or night. Students can choose phone, video, or in-person services to meet their time demands, regardless of their physical location. Co-op? Study abroad? No problem. Where on-campus appointments might be limited on a given day, MySSP appointments are always available to Michigan Tech students. This is an excellent complement to our existing services and an important resource for students.

    Students have uninterrupted access to crisis assistance and can schedule appointments at any time—day or night.

    Morneau Shepell’s MySSP will help Michigan Tech meet the needs of all Huskies and help them feel a greater sense of belonging.


    Meet Wayne Gersie,Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion


    Hi everyone, my name is Wayne Gersie. I’m the new Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion here at Michigan Tech University. I’m excited to be a part of your community, and I’m looking forward to having conversations with you about diversity, equity, inclusion and sense of belonging. Since I have been here, I have had the opportunity to move around and interact with many of you and get a really great sense of what it’s like to be a member of this community. Your stories have made me better understand what it means to live and work at Michigan Tech. You shared what you love about the community—but also some of the challenges you’ve experienced in your time here. I know we have work to do.

    While I certainly acknowledge that we’ve had some challenges this past semester, I’m encouraged by the conversations I have had with many of you in the short time I’ve been here. One of the first initiatives my office is focusing on is a 120-day action plan developed by the newly formed President’s Council Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I’ve heard many of you ask for action. I hear you. And this Task Force and its 120-day plan are a great first step.

    With the support of President Koubek and the President’s Council, we will identify and develop solutions that can provide an immediate benefit to both the community’s employees and its students. Speaking broadly, this team will develop a constructive dialogue from which actionable items will be drawn. It will be hard work, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to do it.

    Our website, mtu.edu/diversity-inclusion, will serve as a hub for information about our office and our initiatives. It will also serve as a place where you can see the notes, progress and goals the Task Force develops throughout these critical next couple of months.

    In the meantime, if you have questions, suggestions, or just want to talk, please reach out to our office.

    Thank you for helping create a Michigan Tech where everyone feels welcome. Together, we are better.