UM Alumni Association Increases Diversity Scholarship by $30 Million

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Ayanna McConnell

Underrepresented minority enrollment — and particularly that of Black students — has slumped at the University of Michigan in the decade since the state’s ban on affirmative action in admissions practices. The University’s Alumni Association is attempting to counter that trend, announcing this month an expansion of its merit scholarship fund for students of color by $30 million. 

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Ayanna McConnell, the association’s director of student engagement, on the state of diversity on campus and the fund’s aim to improve accessibility for underrepresented demographics. The scholarship allots between $5,000 and $15,000 to recipients each year.  

Black student enrollment, McConnell says, has dropped in half since 2006 from 7.1 percent to 4.9 percent in 2016 — and earlier this year, the university came in last in a New York Times’ ranking of socioeconomic diversity at highly selective public colleges. Along with the university’s release of a campus-wide strategic plan on diversity, equity and inclusion, McConnell also points to the need for independent organizations like the Alumni Association in holding administrators to their commitment to minority students. 

I remember having 60 people from my Detroit public high school going to Michigan, and now we’re lucky if we get a dozen. The changes are very real…and we want to create a pipeline that’s sustainable over the next few years,” she says.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: University of Michigan Library, flickr

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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