Welcome to the 2017 Rackham Report

In my time at Rackham, as faculty and now as interim dean, I have found that the school’s greatest strength is the way in which it engages people all across our campuses. Some of the best, most productive conversations I have been a part of have come when students and faculty use Rackham to step outside of not only their disciplines, but also themselves, to learn how ideas and norms differ profoundly because of the variety of the academic work that we pursue and the diverse experiences and perspectives that we bring to that work.

The pages that follow will give you a sense of those experiences and the breadth, depth, and excellence of graduate education at Rackham. From our evolving student programs to our commitment to diversity and a milestone anniversary of our Barbour Scholars Program, 2017 was a dynamic and rewarding time for all of us at Rackham.

I am thankful for the chance to serve as dean of such a varied and intellectually vibrant community, and I am grateful for the outstanding staff, generous donors, and devoted colleagues across U-M who make our work possible. Most of all, though, I am thankful for the students whose scholarship and research continue to move their fields forward as they pursue their goal of a graduate degree.

Michael J. Solomon

Interim Dean,
Interim Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs

2017 Honor Roll of Donors

We are grateful to everyone on the 2017 Honor Roll of Donors. Rackham donors have given over $30.5 million for student support in the Victors for Michigan campaign.

pages from the Honor Roll of Donors

Your Impact

Thanks to Rackham Donors we were able to fully fund 93% of doctoral students. 98% of doctoral students received financial aid. 21% of Master’s students had more than 50% full funding.

In addition, your support helped Rackham fund 2,433 conference travel grants, 116 graduate students received summer funding, and 586 received Rackham Research Grants.


Total Donors


New Donors


Gifts of $100,000 or more


Gifts of $10,000 or more


Gifts of $1,000 or more


Gifts of $100 or more


Gifts of less than $100


Gifts from Alumni

$3,174,803.66 in graduate student support came from realized bequests in 2017. We are grateful to alumni and friends who designate the Rackham Graduate School in their estate plan.

374 families are in the Mary Rackham Society, indicating they have given more than $10,00 to Rackham during their lifetime.

78 families are in the John Monteith Society, indicating they will generously support Rackham with an estate plan gift.

1,338 donors have given to Rackham students every year for the last 5 years.

720 donors have supported Rackham students every year for the last 10 years.

Thanks to Rackham Donors!

Victors for Michigan logo

Dear donor…

The following is a collection of notes written by Rackham graduate students expressing their gratitude to our generous donors.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Increasing the diversity of graduate students and providing an inclusive environment are key priorities at Rackham.

Rackham has a history and tradition of valuing the diversity of our students as an essential dimension of excellence in graduate education. As we continue to act upon and evolve Rackham’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan, 2017 saw numerous highlights related to these efforts.

Top 12

U-M is the only institution that ranked in the top 12 for doctorates awarded in each U.S. minority group from 2012 to 2016. (source: NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates)


41% of our students are international (35% of Ph.D.s, 52% of master’s), representing more than 100 countries.

All the Difference

Rackham Welcomes Minority Serving Institutions Coordinator

Edmund Graham was hired as Rackham’s first Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) coordinator. In this role—which is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation—Graham assists with the strategic development of partnerships between U-M and other MSIs in an effort to attract, recruit, and retain a highly qualified, diverse graduate student community.

New DEI Professional Development Certificate Program

This year, Rackham launched a new program designed to prepare graduate students to work in a diverse environment while fostering a climate of inclusivity. The program, which was designed in response to student feedback, recognizes a relatively new and rapidly growing movement among employers, both within and outside of the academy, to require job applicants to demonstrate a commitment to diversity. The first year saw 174 applicants from 13 schools and colleges.

Other Highlights

  • The MORE (Mentoring Others Results in Excellence) committee engages with faculty and graduate students to foster mentoring conversations. As of this year, the committee has worked with 678 faculty members and 405 graduate students, and it has added a new module, “Mentoring Across Difference.”
  • Faculty Allies work within their programs in collaboration with Rackham’s diversity initiatives and can partner with Student Allies. In 2017, 12 Faculty Ally and seven Student Ally grants were awarded.
  • Rackham developed relationships with university partners like the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching to offer a slate of DEI workshops for our students.
  • LGTBQ+ and Student-Parent Programming committees were formed, and Rackham tripled programming for graduate-student affinity groups.
  • In partnership with Services for Students with Disabilities, Rackham developed digital and in-person programming to better serve this population.

Students by Division

Professional Development

Rackham continues to enhance resources, programming, and funding that contribute to students’ development both academically and professionally.

From Research to Job Search

We help students identify and expand transferable skills, envision diverse career paths, and develop effective job-search strategies.

Professional and Personal Development Workshops

More than 4,000 graduate students and postdocs attended Rackham programs and workshops for professional and personal development.

Public Engagement Fellows

19 Rackham Public Engagement Fellows explored internships in diverse settings, from museums to foundations.

Student Professional Development Leaders

15 Rackham student Professional Development Leaders from across the university worked with Rackham to develop professional development in their own schools and colleges.

First Candidacy Ceremony

49 new candidates were honored in Rackham’s first candidacy ceremony and attended a series of workshops to help them transition to the dissertation writing phase.

Prospective Students Visited

73 prospective students visited campus to conduct research with Michigan faculty in the Summer Research Opportunity Program and the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Program.

Global Network of Rackham Alums

Our global network of Rackham alums totals 113,367. World Leaders, researchers, scientists, authors, educators, policy makers, artists, entrepreneurs, and more!

Total Students
in 2017

Position Type 5 Years After Graduation
(data from 2008–2012 cohorts)

Barbour Scholars

The Barbour Scholarships are among the oldest and most prestigious awards granted by the University of Michigan, offering funding to female students from Asia and the Middle East since 1917.

The Rackham Graduate School celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the Barbour Scholarship throughout 2017. On October 23 and 24, Barbour Scholars from the past and present gathered in Ann Arbor to share their experiences and look to the future of the education of Asian women.

A Century of Opportunity

Extraordinary Women, Remarkable Contributions

History of the Barbour Scholarship

Travelling in Asia in 1913, Regent Levi Lewis Barbour met three women in China and Japan who had been trained in medicine at the University of Michigan. Inspired by their remarkable contributions to those countries’ welfare and development, he cultivated his vision to endow a scholarship to prepare Asian women as leaders in their home countries and to facilitate understanding between Eastern and Western cultures.

In the past century, more than 700 extraordinary women from over 25 countries have been appointed as Barbour Scholars. They have served as university presidents and educators, senators and ambassadors, researchers and industry leaders, and in a variety of other noteworthy roles. Currently, around 200 reside in the United States, and 261 can be found abroad—Levi Barbour’s living global legacy.

Barbour Scholar Centennial Celebration

The two-day celebration kicked off with a lecture titled “Asian Studies at the University of Michigan: A Brief History” from Professor Donald Lopez, chair of Asian languages and cultures. He emphasized the historical context of Levi Barbour’s generous endowment, including how revolutionary a gift of this kind was at a time when the world was far from peaceful and international relations were complicated.

Barbour alumnae and current scholars also had the opportunity to take a campus tour and visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art. A special part of the UMMA tour included viewing a Chinese ceramic piece titled Tomb Guardian donated by Barbour alumna Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur.

One of the highlights of the Centennial Celebration was the student and alumnae panel, titled “100 Years of Opportunity: Asian Women’s Global Engagement.” Five panelists, Dr. Meera Sampath, Dr. Heasook Rhee, Dr. Wing Li, and Ph.D. candidates Niloufar Emami and Amrita Dhar, shared their experiences as Barbour Scholars, as well as what it was like to travel to the United States from their home countries to pursue a U-M education.

To conclude, the Rackham Graduate School hosted a celebratory dinner during which Interim Dean Michael Solomon presented Barbour Scholars and alumnae with pins resembling those worn by scholars in the 1930s. The dinner served as an opportunity for informal conversation and sharing of experiences among current scholars, alumnae, Rackham staff, and others in attendance.

While each of the Barbour Scholars had varying experiences, their anecdotes shared a common theme—they were all incredibly grateful. They expressed thankfulness for not only the endowment established by Levi Barbour 100 years ago, but also the welcoming nature of Ann Arbor, the opportunity to study at the University of Michigan, and the chance to connect with scholars who came before and after them. Now, we look forward to the next 100 years of the Barbour Scholarship.

The Barbour Scholar Centennial Celebration was sponsored in part by a grant from the University of Michigan Bicentennial Office.

Barbour Scholarship Centennial Committee

Ms. Po-Ju Chen

Ph.D. Candidate
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Ms. Amrita Dhar

Ph.D. Candidate
English Language and Literature

Dr. Usha Lakshmanan

1989, Ph.D.

Dr. Xuezhao Lan

2009, Ph.D.
Education, Psychology

Dr. Hsiu-Chuan Lee

1997, Ph.D.
Comparative Literature

Ms. Ziyong Lin

Ph.D. Candidate

Dr. Airan Liu

2017, Ph.D.
Public Policy and Sociology

Dr. Veronica Nieva

1976, Ph.D.

Dr. Sudipa Topdar

2010, Ph.D.

Ms. Zhen Zeng-Liao

1995, M.S.E.
Materials Science and Engineering

Rackham Dean's Campaign Advisors 2017

Babette Benken

Seal Beach, California

Caren Deming

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Andrew G. De Rocco

Hartford, Connecticut

Robert S. Grossman

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Margaret Gupta

Herndon, Virginia

Cheryl Hurley

New York, New York

Kevin Hurley

New York, New York

Kate Kush

Boston, Massachusetts

Juliette Okotie-Eboh

Detroit, Michigan

Vivian Sangunett

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rackham Development and Alumni Relations Team

Jill McDonough

Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Melissa Herter

Donor Relations Officer

Sarah Phillips

Gift Officer

Andrea (Andy) Steinhoff

Gift Officer

Kyah Dubay

Development Communications Officer

Horace & Mary Rackham

Horace Rackham, an attorney with a Detroit practice, was an early advisor to Henry Ford. In exchange for legal advice, Ford offered stock options to Horace, who invested in the new automobile venture. The investment made Horace a wealthy man. Upon his death in 1933, Horace’s widow Mary oversaw the fund that was established with proceeds from his estate. In 1935 Mary and the fund made a substantial gift to endow fellowships at the newly named Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and pay for the construction of the building which is now a campus landmark. Neither Horace nor Mary had U-M degrees, but they were committed to advanced education and research.

illustration of Horace and Mary Rackham