Reflecting on the past six months is a formidable and painful task. While we have accomplished much as individuals and communities, we have lost in equal measure, whether it be stability, certainty, even the death of loved ones—or all the above and more.
We have been forced to reckon with our histories, and are now being held to account for our actions and inactions. And it doesn’t appear we are near the end of whatever history will call this moment in time. It is much easier, and perhaps more illustrative, to consider the emotions of the moment and the inspirations behind them. First and foremost, I feel an enormous sense of gratitude—for our faculty and staff, who pivoted quickly to remote education in the spring and gave up much of their summer to plan for fall; for the graduates of 2020, who weathered a virtual Mod 4 and the postponement of their Commencement; and for our alumni who have contributed their time, resources and energy to supporting the Owen community during unprecedented times.
I also feel a strong sense of Owen pride. The speed and depth of innovation that our faculty has brought to the classroom is astounding. The MBA Class of 2020 established new employment records, even in the face of extreme job-market uncertainty. We earned our highest position in the U.S. News and World Report rankings in four years. Our alumni are tackling the pandemic and social justice in a variety of inventive and compassionate ways.
I feel hopeful about the future of equity, diversity and inclusion at Owen. While we have not done enough in the past to foster these principles, we are already taking the first of many steps to correct our course, and I’m confident we will continue to generate momentum. Faculty, staff and students are reading the 2019 bestseller How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi during the summer. Professors are enhancing curriculum. Working groups like the Owen Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board are tackling multiple aspects of those principles. I’m thrilled to watch our community learn and grow together.
And, despite the challenges that await us in the fall, I also feel excited! An incredible group of alumni has pledged more than $13 million toward a comprehensive renovation and expansion of Management Hall—the first such major project since its completion in 1982.
No matter how the pandemic unfolds in the back half of 2020, we will be ready to deliver on our promise of world-class education on a personal scale. I remain inspired by the resolve, creativity and empathy. I see every day throughout our community, even if most of it is currently through a computer screen.
All the best,
M. ERIC JOHNSON
Ralph Owen Dean Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy