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About NCID

The National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) represents a commitment by the University of Michigan to affirm the central value of institutional diversity to the public mission of U.S. colleges and universities.

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We support scholarship and its sophisticated application to the challenges associated with meeting this commitment spanning the recruitment and selection of students and faculty, assuring campus climates that promote success, preparing and inspiring leaders, and reframing the complicated discourse that surrounds institutional diversity in a changing, politically charged national landscape. We are guided by the recognition that U.S. institutions of higher education must increase their efforts to prepare more individuals to be actively engaged in building a dynamic, diverse democratic society.

To achieve our vision we have adopted a set of strategies aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of scholarship, leadership and institutional commitment to these issues. Our work is organized around three major themes:


Based on the U-M campus in Ann Arbor, NCID’s work crosses the borders of the University of Michigan providing leadership in alliance with professional associations, partnering institutions, scholars, and advocacy communities across the United States.

Demography, Democracy, Discourse

The work of NCID is grounded in scholarship that follows and seeks to relate three compelling influences on the future of our institutions and U.S. society.

Of these three domains, perhaps DEMOGRAPHY offers the least contested starting point for understanding the importance of higher education’s role in preparing for the future of American society. Our national composition is changing, aging, diversifying, and adjusting to greater economic and technological complexity. Our scholars look beyond this most obvious fact and explore aspects of population dynamics and their interaction with race, gender, class, and location that describe the world now and predicts the human environment for which higher education must prepare.

DEMOCRACY, a term that seems by its nature and the reverence we give to it to be a unifying idea, is actually changing in concept and practice with each new American generation. The pace of change in this area is faster than most realize and judicial decisions, elections, and political affiliations are only the meteor trail of a national and international projectile that was set in motion hundreds of years ago but constantly accelerates. We no longer have consensus on what democracy means in practice. The rules seem to be changing and often they change just as new faces arrive to enter the game. As related to NCID’s mission, the most basic concern in this regard is “who gets to participate?”

This is one of the core questions debated in the DISCOURSE that surrounds the issue of diversity in higher education and between education and society. Acknowledging this discourse, understanding its limitations and its powerful impact, finding a way to enter into it and better inform it is a long-standing responsibility of U.S. higher education. Our scholarship and leadership development efforts examine the framing and context of the ongoing national discussion about race, inclusion, gender, opportunity, class, and ability. What is said, to whom, by whom? How does this discourse reflect on and shape our attitudes about who we are (demography) and what we value (democracy)?

Developing Future Leaders

NCID draws on the scholarship contributed by a large network of researchers that span the country and virtually academic disciplines to prepare leaders for roles in communities, institutions, and society. In partnership with foundations, businesses, and professional groups, we have organized an innovative approach to assure that individuals will have the knowledge, tools, and courage to respond to the inescapable and inter-related realities of changing demography, shifting views of democracy, and trends in the public discourse that relate higher education to society.  This capstone investment is available only by invitation and is offered in cooperation with other leadership development programs across the country. A summary of the curricular elements associated with this initiative is available by contacting us.

2013-2015 Priorities and Strategies

NCID Priorities and Strategies