Dear Members of the Owen Community,
I’m saddened, troubled, and angered by the death of George Floyd and all of the violent deaths our country has witnessed as evidence of racism and injustice. He is the latest of too many reminders of the systemic discrimination that black and brown people face in America on a daily basis – one strong enough to ignite a reaction in America larger than we have seen in decades.
The multitude of reactions and opinions, alongside the constant flow of new and repackaged information, can shine a bright light on a dark situation. But it can also overwhelm, obfuscate, and dishearten, especially at a time when many already feel disconnected. In moments like these, it’s important for leaders to speak up and show where they stand.
I, along with the entire community at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, condemn racism in any form. Racism runs counter to our commitment to diversity and inclusion, a foundational element of our mission. Racism undermines the safe, close-knit, and collaborative community we strive to build for students throughout their time at Vanderbilt and beyond. Racism is not and will not be tolerated at Vanderbilt University or the Owen Graduate School of Management.
We believe that the abilities to collaborate and to genuinely connect with individuals are fundamental to great leadership. To appreciate and celebrate our collective humanity, to listen, to strive for equality in consideration and action – these are hallmarks of excellent leaders, the kind our students seek to become in their careers and lives. These tenets will continue to guide our school through this uncertain time and beyond. Because they evoke our desired state as individuals and as a society. And because they work.
Our commitments require continual work, which we will do as a community. Through groups like the D&I Advisory Board and initiatives taken up by faculty, students, and staff, we have made progress over the last few years, but there’s much more to be done. And we will do what’s needed to be done, together.
M. Eric Johnson
Ralph Owen Dean, Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy