As I reflect upon all that has transpired over the past few months and particularly the last few weeks, my heart goes out to our colleagues, students and families both in the region and across the world – many of whom have been personally impacted by our current circumstances: a global pandemic, a declining economy and the ugliness of racism. I am struggling to find the words to communicate the solidarity I feel for and with our fellow men and women whose civil rights have been ignored for far too long. Even if I could find the words, they can’t begin to capture the tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who came before.
I am reminded of the poetry of Maya Angelou, who wrote: “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
The peaceful protests are showing the kind of courage that is waking up a nation – freedom to have your voice heard is precious. And yet, the virtues Maya Angelou spoke of are missing in action. Too many of our brothers and sisters, by virtue of skin color, continue to experience a free society differently than the rest of us – a society that inherently lacks equality, justice and fair treatment under the law.
As educators, our roles are in the preparation of the next generation of leaders. Never has our work been more meaningful as it is now – we must empower our students to take action against racial injustice, recognize the pain of inequality and find their own voices of conscience. We talk about what it means to be men and women for others given the Jesuit values of our institution. We must be a part of the community that engages in difficult conversations. We must work with our colleagues and students to find the tools necessary for meaningful dialogue, and discuss the strategies that lead to real change.
The College of Business Administration (CBA) stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and is committed to taking action against systemic racism. In our CBA mission, we aspire to develop business leaders with moral courage and creative confidence to be a force for good in the global community. Business has a responsibility to reduce inequality and create a more ethical and sustainable world. The CBA, with its commitment to the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) and the Sustainable Development Goals, is dedicated to engaging these challenges meaningfully and creating spaces for understanding and action in order to make real progress.
I understand we have work to do in the CBA. We are taking action by launching a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Project to address race and inclusivity, and to ensure we become the kind of institution where all feel welcome, enabled and empowered. We are developing a process to address integral issues and work toward creating a CBA culture that is inclusive and embodies our mission in spirit, intent and action. This process will take inspiration from principles of restorative justice so that we move forward together in shared understanding and cooperation. Through three phases – listening, dialogue and action – our goal is to create an inclusive place where all feel comfortable participating and advancing together in an equitable learning community.
In these difficult times, let’s be there for each other and truly find our CBA strength in more meaningful ways than ever before – together, we can create a stronger, more inclusive community at LMU that is a catalyst for real change.
Dayle M. Smith, Ph.D.
Dean, LMU College of Business Administration