I write to you today with a heavy heart as we watch people around the United States and the world rightfully protest against the systemic racial injustice and police violence aimed at members of the Black community. George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis, and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor among others, are ugly reminders of the reality endured by Black people and other racial minorities. We empathize with the frustration, pain, anger, and sorrow that is being experienced by our community, and I join members of the Northeastern and D’Amore-McKim community in affirming that Black Lives Matter while condemning racism and the abuse of power.
Over the last few weeks, we have spoken to several members of our business school community about our past and present situation, as well as what we want our future to look like. We see, and hear, your pleas for amplification and action, and I wanted this message to be a real first step in a definitive plan to ensure our community is as inclusive as possible – on our collective terms, not just mine.
Beyond racial discrimination, the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated job losses have affected Black America and other communities of color disproportionately. It is clearly time for D’Amore-McKim to double down on our efforts to protect disadvantaged members of our community, dismantle racial discrimination, and promote social justice. We can be a guiding light for equity, inclusion, and belonging where every voice is heard, every experience is respected, and every identity is honored.
D’Amore-McKim is, and will continue to be, a force for good. Our amazing faculty and staff members help shape our students into the leaders of tomorrow and help them be the best version of themselves.
We also have a critical role to play in helping prospective students from diverse backgrounds envision a career in business by making them aware of, and providing access to, the vast landscape of potential professional opportunities. By doing so, we facilitate inclusive leadership. We will invest resources to develop targeted programming efforts in order to expand access to business education for underserved communities.
Let us join together in leading through this uncertainty and influencing what comes next. Please reach out to us with ideas, thoughts, and suggestions. Here is an incomplete list of action items that will help start the work of generating meaningful outcomes to ensure that D’Amore-McKim will always be an inclusive community.
- In the short-term, we will host virtual “Community Reflections” events for all D’Amore-McKim students who want to share their thoughts, have a dialogue with the community, and help create lasting change. This work will be led by the D’Amore-McKim School of Business Office of Student Engagement, Affinity, and Inclusion (OSEAI), which was created in the fall of 2019 with a mission to “cultivate a culture of belonging where every student feels respected, valued and heard.” As part of this work, a “Building Belonging” effort was piloted last year with a group of diverse undergraduate students who worked together to find ways to nurture advocacy for underrepresented voices within the college;
- Through our regularly scheduled “Resiliency Talks” series, we will bring together alumni and business partners who lead Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work in their organizations in order to educate the entire D’Amore-McKim community;
- We will work towards providing opportunities for candid but safe conversations for, and between, D’Amore-McKim faculty and staff to understand what tolerance and inclusion really means in order to foster a culture of belonging;
- Experiences at D’Amore-McKim should reflect challenges faced by society. To that end, we will work with faculty groups in terms of accommodating issues of racial and social inequality in our curricula and class discussions, where appropriate, in order to develop enlightened leaders who can be impactful from day one;
- We will deepen our relationships with organizations that support business student diversity, including The Posse Foundation, The National Black MBA Association (NBMBA), The Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), The Ph.D. Project, The Business School Consortium and The Forte Foundation in order to build talent pipelines into D’Amore-McKim that reflect ethnic and gender diversity.
The events over the past few weeks remind us that we are all in this together. The real voyage of discovery comes from observing the world through the eyes of others. We must come together as a community to effect the change that we wish to see. While D’Amore-McKim rejects racism in all forms, we have much more work to do in regards to improving racial tolerance and reducing social inequity. For instance, D’Amore-McKim Professor Marla Baskerville’s husband, Orlando Watkins, provides a moving account of his lived experiences as an African-American man and his hopes for their sons that shows how much work needs to be done. The journey is likely to be hard, but we will not give up. I am hopeful that, together, we will shape a brighter future with abundant opportunities, free of discrimination, in order to achieve greater fairness of outcomes. Today, the Northeastern community is having a much-needed Day for Reflection, Engagement, and Action. I sincerely encourage our faculty, staff, and students to take part in today’s events, reflect, and listen. Many of us are feeling helpless and overwhelmed by what’s happening in the world right now and we need to take some time to take care of ourselves. If you’re a current member of our community and want to talk to a professional, remember that Northeastern has both a student assistance program and an employee assistance program that you may use. Northeastern has provided a list of other resources too that are extremely useful.
While it may seem like an impossibility at the moment, the day will come soon when we are all able to be physically near each other again so we can shake hands and offer words of kindness and hope. Until then, please take some time to reach out to a fellow student, alumni, or colleague. Let them know you care about them as a person and a friend.
I wish you and your families the very best and good health as we navigate these trying times. Thank you all for being such wonderful ambassadors for D’Amore-McKim.
Dunton Family Dean
D’Amore-McKim School of Business