Standing together and supporting each other

Dear Michigan Ross community:

Like so many of you, I have watched in horror the recent events in Minneapolis where George Floyd died while in the custody of police officers. Mr. Floyd’s senseless and tragic death has motivated days of protests across our country, and I want to recognize the pain, fear, anger, and hopelessness that many are experiencing, especially those in our Black and African American community. I stand together with you -- with a heavy heart and an unwavering commitment to do whatever I can to inspire positive change at Michigan Ross and beyond.

Along with President Schlissel, I condemn the actions that led to Mr. Floyd’s death and others before him, and call on those responsible to be held accountable. I also want to shine a light on our University’s Chief Diversity Officer Rob Sellers’ personal testimony. Rob’s words are genuine; his message is inspiring; and his call to action is for all of us to renew our resolve to do all that we can to be a powerful and positive force for change.

As one Ross community, we have both a responsibility and an opportunity.

We have a responsibility to live up to our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion -- not only when it is convenient or popular, but every day and in every moment. We must stand together, as one powerful voice, and denounce all forms of discrimination. Racism and discrimination toward our Black and African American community have no place at Michigan Ross. We can and must be better, and each of us has a responsibility to be the change that our world needs.

We also have an opportunity. The pain felt by members of our community is significant and real. Many are struggling to cope and make sense of the world around us, and this is made more difficult because we are unable to come together in-person to comfort and support each other. With this in mind, each of us has an opportunity to make a positive difference through acts of kindness and compassion. Reach out to those around you, listen and learn, seek to understand, express support, and find support yourself. We have an opportunity to help each other and those around us. By taking action in ways that feel right to you, we can role model the collaborative and supportive culture that is Michigan Ross.

In this spirit, we have set aside time on Friday, June 5th from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT for our community to come together and share perspectives, find support, and discuss our path forward. All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to join this virtual event, which will be facilitated by Taryn Petryk, our Director of Diversity and Inclusion. If you would like to participate, please express your interest here.

I also want to draw your attention to resources that are available during these difficult times. Students can receive support through CAPS, including Julie Kaplan who is dedicated to Michigan Ross students. Michigan Ross faculty and staff can access support through the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office. For everyone, I also want to recommend our research on compassion at work -- especially in times of suffering -- conducted by Prof. Jane Dutton and Michigan Ross graduates Kristina Workman and Ashley Hardin. This work includes best practices for leading with compassion and showing support for others during difficult times.

We do not know with certainty what the next few days, weeks, and months will bring. What we can be certain of, however, is that we will live our core values with an unwavering commitment to inclusion. We are a diverse community that embraces working across our differences in pursuit of positive impact and progress. This is the way we will create a better world, together.