Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at Frost

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April 2, 2021

Dear Frost Community,

The Frost School of Music expresses solidarity with the Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the anti-Asian harassment and violence that has been taking place across the country.

There is an alarming rise in hate crimes as we’ve all seen on the news. It’s happening nationally and it’s happening to our own students. As an institution, we stand firmly against this bias. As the Frost School Culture, Equity, and Diversity Advisory Committee (SCED), we understand the importance of addressing this form of discrimination with our own musicians of Asian descent. These incidents have run the gamut from unintentional verbal insensitivities to more intended aggressive behavior, and they are unacceptable. We stand firmly with our students of Asian descent.

The Frost School of Music prides itself on the rich ethnic and racial diversity of its student population. We wish to recognize all issues, subtle and not so subtle, which reinforce and sustain hurtful attitudes and biases so that our school can better support the needs of the entire Frost family and create a more inclusive and accepting safe haven for all. We, therefore, encourage fresh and open dialogue with our Asian students and colleagues to learn directly from them, how we can be more supportive, and take actions to discourage and stop any and all abusive behavior. 


Dean Shelton G. Berg

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  • August 19, 2020

    Dear Frost Community,

    Although COVID-19 has required an enormous effort to prepare for the safe return of students to campus, the culture of our school has not taken a subordinate position in our planning and action. The Frost School hosted a series of town hall meetings last spring, and we received frank input from hundreds of students, alumni, staff, and faculty. What we heard caused a difficult and painful period of reflection, but, we did hear you.

    As a result of those discussions, in recent months we have focused on culture and inclusion for black students, staff, and faculty with the following steps to report:

    • The School Culture, Equity, and Diversity Committee has named Professors Melvin Butler and Jennifer Grim as co-chairs. This group has been meeting throughout the summer to advise school leadership.
    • There is a new Frost School Staff Equity and Diversity Committee.
    • The School Culture, Equity, and Diversity Committee has interviewed and selected a consultant to begin work with the school during the current academic year. We will probe deeply into our culture and actions, and we expect to explore unconscious bias and how to evolve holistically into a more inclusive society. This work will examine attitudes and behaviors, course content, concert programming, recruitment of students and faculty, media messaging, etc.
    • Valerie Coleman was appointed Director of Chamber Music for the School. Among other goals, Professor Coleman and her colleagues are revising the program to more greatly embody multiculturalism in repertoire and learning.
    • UM’s One Book, One U program for freshman students has selected So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. We are asking all Frost School students, staff, and faculty to read the book, and we encourage students to create musical performances and repertoire inspired by themes from the book. The University hopes to invite the author to campus in the Spring, and during that visit we plan to present our music inspired by the book.
    • As a result of several years of effort and intention, the fall classes of new undergraduate and graduate students in the Frost School are both 8% in the representation of black students. This is a significant improvement, as the black graduate student enrollment had fallen to just over 1%, and the undergraduate figure was around 4%. We are pleased with these increases by 100% and 800%. We pledge to build on this success in the years to come, as we are not where we need to be.
    • Also resulting from years of effort, there are more black faculty members in the Frost School than ever before. For 2020-21, new appointments to the full-time faculty are Troy Roberts (Jazz Saxophone) and Nicole Yarling (Contemporary Music and Musicology), and part-time appointments are David Chiverton (Jazz Drums) and Leon Foster Thomas (Jazz Studies). The full-time faculty of the Frost School is now 8% black, and as recently as 2016, there was only one black faculty member with a full-time appointment. Among the 90 full-time faculty members of the Frost School, 23 are women (25.5%), 14 are Latino/Latina (15.5%), and 7 are black (8%).

    Research has shown that homogenous societies make decisions more quickly than diverse ones, but diverse societies make better decisions than homogeneous ones. We will be better as we become a more diverse and inclusive school. We are pleased to be making progress, but far from satisfied with where we are in the journey. We ask that you continue to let us know how we are doing, whether we are succeeding, and where we are failing. We will continue to hear, respond, and grow.


    Dean Shelton G. Berg



    UM Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

    UM Student Organizations

    UM Office of Institutional Culture