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Update on the Culture of Belonging Roadmap Initiative

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    Culture of Belonging, one of the initiatives on the Roadmap to Our New Century, is building a shared sense of connection at UM by helping every ‘Cane know their contributions matter.

    Members of the Culture of Belonging action team, led by Isaac Prilleltensky, vice provost for institutional culture and dean of the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD), are working with the new Office of Institutional Culture (OIC) to identify, analyze and strengthen existing diversity and inclusion efforts and develop new initiatives to address the belonging issues identified, in part, by the 2016 Gallup Faculty and Staff Engagement Survey.

    Located in Pick Hall, on Brescia Avenue, the OIC, which Prilleltensky established after his 2016 appointment as vice provost, has evolved from the culture transformation project into a resource center that offers customized workshops, action guides, and other tools to help individual units or departments foster a culture of belonging.

    Other significant steps include the appointment of Laura Kohn-Wood, chair of the SEHD’s Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, as associate vice provost for institutional culture. As co-chair of the University’s student-oriented Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kohn-Wood brings familiarity with the student perspective to the OIC, which is developing belonging initiatives for students.

    Guided by feedback from the Gallup survey, as well as other data sources, the OIC staff and the Culture of Belonging action team also have been meeting with individual deans and other leaders across the U to help them analyze their survey data, build on their strengths, and address opportunities to promote a culture of belonging. In addition to the personal consultations, the OIC developed web-based tools (available at to help leaders analyze and address specific aspects of their unit’s culture.

    Most recently, the action team organized into subcommittees charged with nurturing and investing in the culture of belonging across all campuses. The groups are focusing on: coordinating belonging efforts across interest groups and offices; developing leadership and accountability programs; consulting with individual units to help tailor their culture of belonging initiatives; creating a new intergroup dialogue program; and researching, measuring, and analyzing perceptions of belonging across students, staff, and faculty.

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