Greetings Foster Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and all,
February is Black History Month. This month offers opportunities to recognize the central role that the Black community has played in U.S. history and at the Foster School, to reinforce our commitment to making the Foster School a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, and to reflect upon what each of us is doing towards this important goal. This past year has offered too many examples of the continued injustice, violence, and oppression of Black people in our society and these examples have made it painfully clear that we all have work to do to correct these wrongs. I believe that the Foster School of Business has the potential and ability to be a force for bettering humanity, and we work every day to foster leaders who have the courage, skills, and character to lead this change.
While it is important to continually state our commitment to support, develop, and celebrate our Black community, it is not enough. We must also take decisive action and hold ourselves accountable to our commitments. In that spirit, I would like to highlight some of the recent efforts we have made to support our Black community and our broader diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) priorities.
Our ongoing work in this area falls into three main categories:
Expanding thought leadership to ensure that every Foster student is exposed to a greater diversity of leaders, authorities and experts that showcase a variety of identities and role models of success.
- Esther Uduehi will join us this fall as an Assistant Professor in the Marketing department. Esther is graduating with her PhD from the Wharton School. Her research examines how diversity and stigma impact the way consumers interact with the marketplace.
- This Spring, Stacia Jones will join us as the first Dean’s Impact Scholar. Stacia is currently the VP and Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action at lululemon and she will also be teaching a course on Corporate DEI to our undergraduate students in the Fall and providing strategic consulting on our DEI efforts at Foster.
Creating Belonging so that every Foster student, faculty and staff member sees the Foster School as a place where they can learn, thrive, and succeed.
- This fall, we established a Task Force of Black students, staff and alumni to provide strategic direction about how we can increase communication, elevate voices and build sustainable community among our Black students, faculty, staff and alumni.
- We have also reimagined and restructured two student subcommittees that report to the Foster Diversity Committee. Each of these committees (at the undergraduate and graduate levels) is comprised of representatives from our student affinity clubs and degree programs. Together, these committees help us to identify opportunities to build connections, set priorities and create policies that advance our DEI priorities.
- The Foster DEI Community of Practice (CoP) continues to grow and now has over 70 Foster faculty and staff members. This Fall, the CoP challenged the Foster community to participate in a 21 Day Race and Equity Challenge. 124 individuals participated in this challenge (28 faculty members, 84 staff, and 12 students) and the challenge spurred important learning, reflection and discussion within our community.
- This month, we will also launch the MBA Mentoring Circles. These Mentoring Circles are designed to create safe spaces to discuss unique challenges and opportunities associated with career development and people of color.
Increasing Outreach and Access to amplify the impact of the Foster School by inviting a greater diversity of individuals into our communities and intentionally using our resources to better the academic and business community beyond Foster.
- The Young Executives of Color (YEOC) program cultivates the academic potential of underrepresented high school student leaders in Washington State thanks to continuing and renewed support from EY and the tireless efforts of the Undergraduate Diversity Services team. The 2020-2021 YEOC program has already hosted five, virtual conferences for its 179 high school participants, who attend 68 different high schools across the state.
- The Building Networks program supports 40 prospective undergraduate business students from underrepresented backgrounds. Building Networks students are drawn from UW and area community colleges and participate in peer-mentor driven programming to build a supportive network of highly ambitious college students.
- We continue to invest in our partnerships such as ROMBA, MLT, and the Consortium to achieve our collective goals of building a diverse and inclusive MBA community. For instance, Foster will host a virtual breakfast on “Building a More Diverse MBA Pipeline” with CEO of the Consortium Peter Aranda on March 3.
- The Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC) celebrated its 25th year anniversary with the 2020 UW Impact Awards on December 3rd. At the Impact Awards, Bruce and Joanne Harrell announced a major gift to support the CBDC. Our sincere thanks to the Harrell family for their investment in and commitment to the CBDC.
- The Foster School partnered with UCLA Anderson School to establish the Bradford-Osborne Research Award, to recognize research published in peer-reviewed journals that contributes to advancing the growth of businesses owned by people of color.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and reflect during Black History Month and invite you to join me in this learning journey. A few ways to take action:
- Follow our social media campaign that will highlight Black alumni from the Foster School whose accomplishments have furthered the progress of our school and the greater business community. Help us to amplify Black voices by sharing these posts with the #FosterInclusion hashtag on your own social media accounts.
- On February 24, we will host our 19th Annual Celebration of African American Alumni Achievement. I hope you will join us for this joyful and meaningful celebration to connect with students and alumni, and to celebrate Nicole Bryant (Foster ’21), this year’s ABBS Scholarship Recipient and Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, the 2021 Spratlen Legacy Award winner.
- Learn about and support Black-owned businesses in the area.
- Give to the ABBS Student Scholarship.
I invite you to learn and celebrate with us as we strive to be better together, better tomorrow.
Orin and Janet Smith Dean
UW Foster School of Business