2022 Rackham Report

From the Desk of the Dean–Thank You!

Last year presented a breadth of opportunities to continue our work toward a more equitable and supportive experience for graduate students at the University of Michigan. Major undertakings of 2022 sought to create more equitable admission practices, improve graduate student mental health, strengthen the mentorship experience, and provide critical internship experiences for doctoral students.

It is the thoughtful generosity of our donors and Rackham community that allow us to take a leading role in graduate education around the world. Your support makes it possible for us to advance our goals through meaningful initiatives. Together, we’re working to:

Advance Holistic Graduate Admissions Decisions

We must eliminate barriers that prevent the fullest range of creative, skilled, and motivated individuals from applying to our programs. With the goals of each program in mind, we will determine the specific qualifications, skills, and potential that we seek in the students we admit, creating a portfolio of admissions offers that collectively achieve those goals. This means breaking habits that have historically limited us in identifying talent and potential, such as overweighing test scores or the reputations of letter writers and institutions.

Support Mental Health, Well-Being, and Mentorship

Rackham’s Graduate Student Mental Health Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, mental health professionals, and students using their experience and expertise to develop plans to best support our scholars. Currently, the committee is partnering with departments to develop unit-level mental health and well-being resources for faculty, staff, and students. The committee has also recommended the establishment of expectations for mentoring plans among doctoral students and their faculty mentors, a process that will be facilitated by the Rackham faculty mentoring committee.

Strengthen Transferable Academic and Research Skills

The opportunity for students to apply their scholarly expertise in non-academic settings is a vital part of their graduate training. The Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program supports students in exploring and strengthening their transferable academic and research skills. These internships are funded largely by our alumni and donor community, and last year, you helped make 76 internship experiences possible around the world and right here in Michigan. Thanks to you, we are on track to fund 100 internships annually in the next few years–a symbol of the reverberating impact of your generosity.

These initiatives have potential for great impact, and it is our community of support that makes bold changes possible. I would also like to welcome the 170+ donors who made their first gift to Rackham last year–it is an honor to work alongside you in support of a more equitable and supportive graduate school experience. On behalf of Rackham graduate students and all of us who work to serve them, thank you for your partnership.

With gratitude,
Mike Solomon
Dean, Rackham Graduate School

The Scholars You Support

During their time on campus, Rackham graduate students serve as instructors, researchers, co-authors, and collaborators. Their expertise and hunger for knowledge are a large part of what makes the University of Michigan an excellent place to teach and be taught.

3,136 New Rackham Students Enrolled in 2022

9,789 Total Rackham Students From 119 Different Countries

3,429 Completed Their Degrees and Joined the Rackham Alumni Community

Doctoral students are at Michigan to solve big problems
and thanks to you, 97% are fully funded.

Rackham Student Helps Evaluate Michigan Redistricting Effort

Jake Hawes, a Ph.D. student in the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability and member of its Urban Sustainability Research Group, joined the team as a winter 2022 fellow. With the support from the Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship Program, he was able to work with Voters Not Politicians while still pursuing his dissertation.

As a fellow with Voters Not Politicians, environment and sustainability doctoral student Jake Hawes helped evaluate Michigan’s political redistricting to provide a roadmap for the future. Photo from VotersNotPoliticians.com.

Decisive Differences in Healthcare AI

When decisions about your healthcare are informed by artificial intelligence, bias in machine learning can have dire consequences. Ph.D. student Trenton Chang researches how inequities in healthcare delivery impact machine learning and AI.

Trenton Chang began his academic career in the humanities, with an American studies undergraduate degree from Stanford University, a path that he says fuels his current research at U-M in the field of machine learning.

Shifting Perspectives: Racial Justice and Social Media

Two Rackham students, Casidy Campbell and Jessica Roden, explore new possibilities for advancing racial justice online and offline.

Casidy Campbell and Jessica Roden are Rackham Predoctoral Fellows, nominated by their programs and selected through a competitive review process based on the creativity and impact of the research they are pursuing. Both express deep appreciation for the funding that allows them to maintain focus on dissertating.

“The Predoctoral Fellowship is super valuable in making sure that I have the time to focus on my dissertation and do the work that is important to me,” Roden says.

In addition to the Predoctoral Fellowship, Campbell cites the Roz Abrams Award and the mentors she’s gained through Rackham as instrumental to her graduate school success. “I don’t think a lot of other institutions provide these opportunities,” she says. “I am so grateful for them.”

Faster, Stronger, Better

Developing new, more efficient batteries has become paramount if automotive and other industries want to move away from fossil fuels. Mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Changyu Deng is developing ways to speed up that process.

Deng is the recipient of three Rackham Conference Travel Grants, which allowed him to attend the 2020 and 2021 meetings of the Electrochemical Society, as well as the 2022 Gordon Research Conference on Batteries held in California. He is also the recipient of a 2022–2023 Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship.

Developing DEI as a Critical Skill

In a recently published article, two Rackham alumni and current U-M staff members explore how a Rackham certificate program is contributing to significant learning and student success by training graduate students to work in diverse environments while fostering a climate of equity and inclusivity.

A Community Impact

A Commitment to Excellence

The Honor Roll recognizes the generosity of Rackham alumni and friends who donated in 2022. Each name represents a commitment to excellence in graduate education and a show of support as we continue our efforts as a global leader in research and scholarly training. To each and every person on this list, and many who have given anonymously, thank you.

Photo: Ph.D. Candidate and Karl C.K. Ma Scholar Yihui Sheng poses with Rackham donor Roberta (Bobbi) Gutman at “Exhibits of Excellence: An Interactive Celebration of Donors & Scholars”

Strength in Numbers

2,338 gifts and pledges, from 1,666 donors, totaling $3,213,100 in support of graduate education at the University of Michigan

65% of Gifts Were $100 or Less

65% of gifts were $100 or less, illustrating the comprehensive nature of philanthropy at the University of Michigan.

173 Donors

173 donors joined the Rackham family of support with their first gift in 2022.

585 Donors

585 donors have been giving for a decade or more.

Nearly 500 Donors

Nearly 500 donors made their first gift 25-plus years ago.

9 Donors

Nine donors made their first gift 40-plus years ago.

Giving in GRADitude: Stepping Up for 20 Years

Drs. Subhachandra Chandra (Ph.D. 2000) and Nandita Dukkipati made their first gift to the Rackham Impact Fund in 2002, a $100 gift they thought of as a “small step” in supporting students to pursue their potential and aspirations “in their graduate work and beyond.”

In 2021, they established the Chandra Family Fellowship Fund, and by the end of 2022–two decades and many “small steps” after their first gift–it has provided critical tuition support to two emerging STEM scholars from underrepresented backgrounds.

Their gratitude for the opportunities they encountered was both the initial and ultimate catalyst for their giving. “We feel compelled to share with the future generations of graduate students the joy that our graduate school experience had gotten us–directly through research, and indirectly through our careers in the ensuing years.

For both Chandra and Nandita, graduate school in the States–at U-M and Stanford, respectively–was one of the most transformative experiences of their lives.“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse ourselves in solving some of the hardest and most interesting problems that matter, in collaboration with world class faculty and fellow students,” they recount. “The years spent in graduate school catapulted us in our careers building systems ranging from the infrastructure powering public clouds to those enabling self-driving vehicles.”

As recipients of financial support throughout their own doctoral journeys, this fund, and the difference it will make to its recipients are personal, and they recognize the financial hardship of international students and those who are underrepresented in their field. “More often than not, underrepresented students need to navigate a number of hidden challenges causing much emotional toil, and with this endowment, we hope that financial toil is not one of them.”

Investments in students from all backgrounds are imperative to a thriving campus and the fields into which U-M graduate scholars enter. Chandra and Nandita are firm believers that future advances in science, technology and medicine must happen with diverse populations’ needs and perspectives in mind, making Rackham a perfect home for their philanthropic goals.

“It’s imperative that there is a diverse representation of students in the fields of STEM, and that this population receives equitable opportunities, and is included in the key decisions impacting the direction of the field.”

We at Rackham are endlessly grateful to have a steadfast community of support that so closely aligns with the values that drive our work, and we extend our deepest gratitude to Chandra and Nandita. Thanks to donors like them, our scholars can strive for goals they’ve dreamt of from an ocean away.

Subhachandra Chandra (Ph.D. 2000) earned his degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. Nandita Dukkipati earned her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.
More often than not, underrepresented students need to navigate a number of hidden challenges causing much emotional toil, and with this endowment, we hope that financial toil is not one of them.
Drs. Subhachandra Chandra and Nandita Dukkipati

Representation Matters: Bringing Firsthand Experience to Political Science

Rackham political science alumna and Barbour Scholarship recipient Mervat Hatem has dedicated her career to understanding the complex political realities that shape the world around us. Through a generous gift to Rackham, she’s working to ensure a new generation of scholars can follow in her footsteps.

Support for students from the Middle East is not something you encounter at very many academic institutions,” she says. “I continue to appreciate the education I received at Michigan, as well as the support of the Barbour Scholarship. I want to make sure that continues to be available to men and women like me. I have spent most of my professional life on the study of gender and politics in this region, and I want to see that work continue.
Mervat Hatem

Rep Rack & Give Back

Since the launch of the Rackham apparel store in April 2022, proud donors and alumni have donated $1,454 to support emergency fund requests through their purchases.

Photo: Rackham students Shana Littleton (left) and Zoe Walker (right) smile at the camera as part of a Students of Color of Rackham photo shoot this fall to help promote the Apparel Store.

A Culture of Philanthropy Since 1935

Horace Rackham was a Detroit lawyer, original shareholder of the Ford Motor Company, and noted philanthropist in the city and surrounding areas. Two years after his death in 1933, in accordance with his will, his wife of 47 years, Mary Rackham (née Horton), committed $2.5 million to build the Rackham Building, and an additional $4 million to establish the endowment. At the time, it was the largest philanthropic gift ever given in support of graduate education.

With the creation of the endowment, the Rackhams aimed to provide fellowship and research support, as well as funds for a building that would bring faculty and graduate students together for intellectual exchange across disciplinary boundaries.

Today, 87 years later, the original endowment continues to support the graduate school with its distributions from its now $174 million market value. Rackham Graduate School is the hub for research-based graduate education at the university.

2022 Honor Roll of Donors

The Honor Roll recognizes the generosity of Rackham alumni and friends who donated in 2022. Each name represents a commitment to excellence in graduate education and a show of support as we continue our efforts as a global leader in research and scholarly training. To each and every person on this list, and many who have given anonymously, thank you.

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