Interim Dean McLaughlin outlines Dyson’s preliminary antiracism action items

Black Lives Matter: A message from interim dean Edward McLaughlin

Edward McLaughlin, interim David J. Nolan Dean of the Dyson School, sent the following message to Dyson students, staff, and faculty on July 8, 2020.

Dear Dyson students, staff, and faculty,

I’m the new interim dean of the Dyson School. Most Dyson faculty and staff already know me, since I have been on the Dyson faculty as a professor of marketing for 37 years and also served as interim dean before Dean Wooten was appointed. My first day on the job for this new appointment was last week, on July 1. I am delighted to be back as dean and it’s a genuine privilege to be serving our community and the college of business again.

For the past few weeks, I have made it a priority to participate in town halls and smaller meetings with students, staff, faculty, and college leadership being held about the forms of racism that persist in our college and in Dyson.

I also have been working closely with Dyson leadership to learn more about the efforts both under way and planned that are geared toward strengthening and delivering on our commitment to combat racism and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the school.

I have heard from our community—especially from our students and recent graduates—many painful examples of the ways in which the current culture and curriculum in Dyson do not live up to this commitment. It is clear that we have longstanding issues with racism to deal with in our school, at structural, cultural, and interpersonal levels. And, it is clear that we must work on these issues with more urgency and clarity than we have done in the past. I want you to know that I am fully committed to this work.

As we move forward, we owe Dean Wooten a debt of gratitude in building a foundation for what is now to come. She was instrumental in diversifying our alumni advisory board and in launching the Dean’s Lectures, which brought in far-ranging and challenging perspectives from authors and alumni we wouldn’t have otherwise heard.

The Dyson School will actively embrace all of the action steps outlined yesterday, July 7, in Dean Kevin Hallock’s message to the college of business. We also will take further steps to address issues of racism and inequity that are specific to the Dyson School’s context and mission. Below are a few of the early initiatives that we will begin this summer and fall, while we continue in parallel to develop a fuller plan.

We will do the following:

  • Launch a sustained dialogue, including new courses and faculty workshops, with the Dyson community, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni, about the book How to Be an Antiracist. We are also exploring the possibility of offering a one-credit seminar on the book for students. The sustained dialogue, planned for the fall semester, is intended to lead us towards community action and transformation.
  • Develop and require training for all Dyson TAs and student workers, to ensure that everyone who supports the learning environment has the understanding and tools to further our inclusive mission.
  • Deliver student programming, including new diversity orientation sessions; Empathy by design modules in AEM 1101 Design Your Dyson; Office of Diversity & Inclusion workshops; and alumni chats about diversity, inclusion, and equity, particularly as it relates to race.
  • Launch a summer book read for new students, Callings, which tells stories of people finding their purpose through work of all kinds. Faculty, staff and alumni will participate in the storytelling and discussions.
  • Hold ongoing discussions for faculty about social justice issues, in order to (1) identify ways our current required curriculum addresses systemic inequity, and (2) further align curriculum with our college equity commitments and our mission to use our teaching and research to create a better world for all. These discussions will be a component of each faculty meeting beginning in the fall semester.
  • Strengthen partnerships between Dyson student organizations and the directors from Dyson’s offices of student services, diversity and inclusion, career management, and undergraduate studies. These partnerships will include monthly leadership meetings and joint initiatives to give students a clear pathway to create change in the Dyson undergraduate culture and experience.
  • Hold biannual town hall meetings inclusive of Dyson students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni.

We have much work to do, and the actions I’ve outlined in my message today are only some of the steps we will take to address racism and inequality at Dyson. I will update you in the coming weeks with a fuller plan and additional detail, actions, and ways to be involved.

I truly believe in this school, its people, and the passion we share to ensure that indeed, “our business is a better world.” We must take this mission to heart not only for the impact we make outside our campus walls, but more importantly, right here at home.

I look forward to your help in this important work.

Edward W. McLaughlin
Interim David J. Nolan Dean
Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing Emeritus
Director of the Food Executive Program
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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