Our commitment and plan to improve inclusion and diversity at Foster

Foster Students, Faculty & Staff,

When I spoke at the Association of Black Business Students 50th anniversary celebration in February, I said “If Foster is not a more diverse community when my time as Dean concludes then my term will not have been a success.” I still emphatically believe this and realize I have a lot of work to do to make it happen. The urgency of that work has become apparent over the last couple of weeks as the horrific murder of George Floyd ignited protests around the globe. Protests against centuries of systematic and institutionalized racism and oppression of our Black communities. I want all of you to know that I stand in solidarity with our Black students and our Black community. Black Lives Matter. I also want to recognize that I (as a white male) cannot fully know the pain and suffering that our Black community members feel. I am committed to listening and learning and will actively seek out opportunities to do so.

As I meet with various student and faculty groups, I have been thinking a lot recently about our path forward–how do we become better tomorrow than we are today with respect to diversity, inclusion and equity? Below are the direct actions that are being taken next year to ensure this change happens (this list is an active work in progress):

Equipping our faculty and staff to create more inclusive learning spaces

  • Leveraging our resources towards more inclusive teaching practices workshops. The aim is to help equip faculty to talk about race, gender and other difficult topics in their classrooms.
  • Encourage more systematic adoption of the Canvas “NameCoach” tool to help faculty learn how to pronounce students’ names.
  • Creating resources for faculty to easily find and ask diverse guest speakers.
  • Continuing conversations about how best to track and reward faculty for creating inclusive learning environments.
  • A long-term commitment to continually evaluate curriculum to incorporate inclusion and diversity (both content and discussions) in the classroom. Our goal is to empower you to lead future difficult conversations in your companies and communities rather than simply participate in them.

Creating inclusive communities for Foster students

  • Inventorying how we “showcase” people and things in PACCAR Hall and Dempsey Hall to create a welcoming space for all.
  • Creation of dedicated time during LAUNCH programming for incoming MBA students to discuss DEI topics.
  • Creating more spaces – physical and otherwise – for students of color to share their experiences safely and create community.
  • Working together with student leadership to ensure that a portfolio of DEI-relevant events are offered to students on an ongoing and strategically planned basis.

Working to ensure that the Foster community reflects the diverse population that it serves

  • Working with recruitment and admissions to help bring a more diverse student body to Foster.
  • Working towards creating a more diverse faculty and staff. This is especially important on the faculty side given faculty serve as role models.
  • A commitment to further diversify the Foster Advisory Board that helps to guide the strategic decisions for the Foster School.

Finally, while I am proud of the steps we have taken to advance diversity and inclusion in my first year as Dean (including increasing scholarships for women and students from underrepresented minorities, increasing the number of minority speakers at graduation ceremonies and working with companies to create unique mentoring programs for URM students) I also recognized that our DEI initiatives are not as coordinated as they could be.  To address this issue, I created the inaugural position of Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity.  In this role, Christina Fong will work to create and shape a strategic approach to how we enact our values at Foster to ensure that Foster is an inclusive learning space and community for Foster students, and that the Foster community reflects the diverse population that it serves.

Accomplishing the above (and more) will take a collaborative effort. I invite you to be a part of the process by sharing ideas, suggestions, and experiences so that we can make Foster the place we all want it to be.

Kind Regards,
Frank