Professor Tabbye Chavous named U-M’s next chief diversity officer
The University of Michigan has named Tabbye Chavous as the university’s vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, following a national search, campus community engagement efforts and public presentations from the final candidates.
Chavous, a recognized expert and champion of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in higher education, currently serves as the director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity; associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in U-M’s School of Literature, Science, and the Arts; and a professor of education and psychology.
The search was led by the national search firm Spelman Johnson and a search advisory committee made up of staff, faculty and students from across the Ann Arbor campus.
A priority for the committee was selecting a candidate with a record of administrative success, demonstrated expertise and leadership around DEI issues in higher education, and a record of scholarly achievement warranting tenure at one of U-M’s schools or colleges at the full professor level.
“I am very excited to lead and build upon the important DEI work that is already underway,” Chavous said. “The University of Michigan has historically played a critical national leadership role in impacting scholarship and practice to advance DEI in higher education and society. I am honored to be a part of continuing this legacy.
“Despite our successes to date, given all that is going on in our world, there is still much work ahead of us to realize our DEI goals. I look forward to partnering with this amazing U-M community of faculty, staff and students to support transformative work that will be sustainable for generations to come.”
Chavous’ appointment, a five-year renewable term that is effective Aug. 1, was approved May 19 by the Board of Regents. She will succeed Robert Sellers, the university’s inaugural VPEI-CDO who was appointed in October 2016. Sellers will remain a tenured faculty member in LSA’s Department of Psychology.
In the position, Chavous will report directly to the provost, serve as a member of the provost’s leadership team, and will be involved in areas of academic affairs including faculty recruitment and retention, tenure and promotion, and faculty development. She also will meet regularly with the president and serve as the principal adviser to the president on DEI issues and provide overall leadership of these efforts.
“Chavous’ leadership experience and research expertise on social and organizational
processes in education will enable her to expand the University of Michigan’s impact,” said Laurie McCauley, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “She has demonstrated a long commitment to diversity, engagement and community that will lend to leading the university’s DEI work at such a critical time as we move into the next phase of our strategic planning process.”
Chavous’ research focuses on identity development among Black adolescents and young adults, and the measurement and impacts of institutional climates on all students’ academic, social and psychological adjustment. Her undergraduate and graduate teaching across education and psychology has focused on developmental, cultural and organizational processes relevant to educational settings, and she mentors students across diverse academic and disciplinary backgrounds in education and social sciences.
Chavous received a B.A. degree in interdisciplinary studies as an Echols Scholar in 1993 from the University of Virginia. She received her M.A. in 1996, followed by a Ph.D in 1998, both in community psychology from the University of Virginia. During this time, she received the Maury Pathfinder Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in 1997, followed by the American Psychology Association Dissertation Research Award in 1998.
Chavous joined the faculty at U-M in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology’s combined program in education and psychology. She was associate professor in the School of Education from 2004 to 2012, and then in LSA from 2005 to 2012. She moved up in the ranks to professor in both schools in 2012.
From 2007 to 2012, Chavous served as chair of the combined program in education and psychology, and as associate dean for academic programs and initiatives at the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies from 2012 to 2016. She served as the associate vice president for research from 2019 to 2021.
Chavous’ expertise also has led her to a variety of scholarly and service impact roles. They include her role as co-director of the Center for Study of Black Youth in Context—which she co-founded in 2008—as well as service on the executive committees for the Center for Statistical Consultation and Research, Humanities Collaboratory, and Institute for Research on Women and Gender, as well as membership on the University Academic Affairs Advisory Committee.
National service roles include membership on two National Academies of Science, Engineering and Mathematics committees focused on broadening diversity and access in science, technology, mathematics and engineering fields, and editorial leadership roles in scholarly journals across education and psychology.
Chavous will take on her new role at a pivotal time, as the university is in the midst of an evaluation process at both the unit and university level of DEI 1.0—the university’s initial diversity, equity and inclusion five-year strategic plan. The evaluation year will be followed by a yearlong cross-campus engagement period that will help to inform and launch the university’s next DEI strategic plan, DEI 2.0, in fall 2023.
She will serve at the helm of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which includes the Office of Academic Multicultural Affairs, Center for Educational Outreach, Wolverine Pathways, ODEI business support team, DEI development team, DEI strategic plan implementation team, and evaluation and assessment team.