University of Texas at Austin
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A Message to the McCombs Community

McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business

Our Response to Recent Racial Unrest

As the McCombs community, we are saddened and outraged by the senseless death of George Floyd and others in the Black community. We hurt for the Black community everywhere and across the Forty Acres, and believe it is all of us at the McCombs School – students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers – who must work together to improve society. Please see our statements about this injustice.

A Conversation About Race and Policing with Dr. Leonard Moore and UTPD Chief David Carter from University of Texas at Austin.

Statements from the University and McCombs School of Business

Dear McCombs colleagues,

George Floyd’s death on camera last week scares me, grieves me, angers me. I hurt for the Black community who so often feels unsafe and less valued, far away and here on the Forty Acres. My sorrow keeps leaking out of my eyes. I believe racial injustice is systematic, not merely a few bad apples.

UT’s Diversity Committee says: If one of us is hurting, then we all hurt. Our silence in the face of injustice sends a negative message to the most vulnerable members of our university community.

It is my first day as interim dean, and I am thinking about both the healing power of shared grief and outrage and the need to remind myself and each other of hope. The transformation of human lives is not just something that happens from faculty to students. It is all of us in the McCombs School – students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers – and together we can improve society.

We can start by unifying. This weekend I have been reaching out and listening to our Black student leaders. I am doing the same with faculty and staff. I ask you each to be checking on one another, too. Now is the time for us to strive to be better humans and to create a more just society for each other and our future generations. I am honored to be at UT Austin and McCombs, and serving all of you, starting today.

Very truly yours,

Lillian F. Mills
Interim Dean

Dear UT Community,

This isn’t the first letter I’d planned to write as interim President of The University of Texas at Austin. I had a series of welcome messages set to go out today. But they didn’t anticipate or acknowledge the events of the past few days and the pain those events have caused for so many — so I had to start over.

Today’s transition comes during a turbulent and difficult time. We are experiencing widespread outrage, anger, sadness and reflection here in Austin, throughout Texas and across our country. The senseless killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests have gripped the nation. As I watch these events unfold, I feel for those who are in pain and am acutely aware that we must continue our struggle for meaningful and enduring change to overcome acts of racism and violence that corrode our community.

These challenges come as we are already responding to the COVID-19 crisis, which has become so much more than a life-threatening disease. It has paused or disrupted many of the core elements of our daily lives, forcing students to adjust to learning remotely and a different market for internships and jobs; requiring faculty and staff members to work in new, less comfortable ways; threatening many individuals’ ability to keep their jobs and earn a living; and impacting our health care and education systems.

As we navigate these difficult times, I am reminded of just how critical The University of Texas at Austin is for our community, state, nation and the entire world.

UT has always been a special place to me, as a student, faculty member and dean of the McCombs School of Business. Now more than ever, I see that the creation and dissemination of knowledge are the most effective antidotes for injustice, inequality and intolerance, and for the advancement and improvement of our society. And that’s what we do at UT.

We say, “What starts here changes the world.” Those starts and changes don’t just happen. They are the result of actions — large and small, as individuals and in teams — by our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Without question, 2020 has not been the year any of us wanted it to be. We have seen political dysfunction, a global pandemic, economic distress, racial tension — and it is only June 1. In facing these struggles and uncertainty, we need people who can think creatively, develop workable solutions and solve difficult problems. The University of Texas has always had a mandate to be a “university of the first class.” Part of that mandate means that this university and the people of this community will take an active role in addressing the critical problems our society is facing.

As Longhorns, when we are tested, we don’t shy away. When we are challenged, we don’t fade into the background and shrink from our responsibility. We come together and draw upon the diverse range of talent, energy and passion that we have on the Forty Acres, to take on the most important and difficult issues of our time. I look forward to working with you to do that in the days and months ahead.

Sincerely yours,

Jay Hartzell
Interim President

As diversity officers at the University of Texas at Austin, we are grieved, horrified, saddened by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, as well as countless others who have lost their lives to acts of racial violence. These egregious acts of racial profiling, physical violence, and death of Black individuals are taking place against a backdrop of a global pandemic that places in bold relief the wrenching inequities that have divided our nation as the virus disproportionately ravages communities of color.

We recognize that we are experiencing more than just a moment of discomfort and discontent. Our nation's dark history has led to this critical moment in time. This is a history that we must grapple with, as we collectively struggle to move forward together.

As diversity officers we want our community and particularly its Black members, many of whom grew up in the same city as George Floyd and may have known him or his people, to know that we are here for you. We understand that these recent senseless events are triggering, tragic, and a stark reminder that Black lives are fragile and can be stolen from us at any moment.

We urge everyone to remember that if one of us is hurting, then we all hurt. Our silence in the face of injustice sends a negative message to the most vulnerable members of our university community. Now, more than ever, we reaffirm and reinvigorate our commitment to supporting an equitable, inclusive, and just institution in which violence, hate, and intolerance are not accepted and are actively combatted.

We encourage all members of our university community to check in on and support each other, recognizing that these recent events differently impact our students and colleagues in very deep and personal ways.

We also encourage our community members to reach out directly to their college or school’s diversity officer for any support, guidance, and resources that they may need.

In Support and Solidarity,

The Coalition of Diversity and Inclusion Officers, University of Texas at Austin

Ya’Ke Smith, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Moody College of Communication
Esther J. Calzada, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Steve Hicks School of Social Work
Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
Edmund T. Gordon, Vice Provost for Diversity, University of Texas at Austin
Shavonne Henderson, Director of Student Equity and Inclusion, School of Law
Christine Julien, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Cockrell School of Engineering
Samuel Moore, Director of Outreach and Diversity, Jackson School of Geosciences
Shelley Payne, Advisor to the Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, College of Natural Sciences
Monique Pikus, Director of Diversity and Organizational Climate, College of Liberal Arts
Rene Salazar, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Dell Medical School
Raji Srinivasan, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, McCombs School of Business
Richard J. Reddick, Associate Dean for Equity, Community Engagement, and Outreach, College of Education
Skyller Walkes, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, College of Pharmacy

Dear McCombs faculty and staff colleagues,

Monday was Lil Mills’ first day as business school interim dean, and her first official message to the McCombs community conveyed anger, hurt, and sorrow at the killings of unarmed black individuals. These senseless deaths are taking place against the backdrop of a global pandemic that places, in stark relief, the wrenching inequities that divide our nation as the virus disproportionately ravages communities of color. We hurt deeply for the Black community.

Many of us are confused by not knowing if and how we should speak up, or what exactly we should or should not do. Nevertheless, we must act. Silence is not an option. Our black students, friends, and colleagues tell us that our silence in the face of their experiences is deafening and hurtful. Saying nothing is actually worse, especially given our role in training future leaders who will, unfortunately, continue to confront these issues in the workplace and society.

Here are ways you can make a difference:

  1. Reach out to current and previous black students and personally check in (via email) on them. We know that our black students and staff will appreciate this gesture.
  2. Sign our McCombs statement of support to stand for justice, equity, and inclusion:
    Some of our faculty colleagues have expressed a strong desire to affirm their commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion. Responding to this request, we have developed a statement to which you can affirm your support by adding your name here.
  3. Visit our resources pages:
    In response to requests from colleagues and students, we have created resource pages that may help you take action. Some of these resources are on the Diversity and Inclusion web page and others are on the McCombs intranet for faculty and staff. Please feel free to use and share with others in the McCombs community.
  4. Email the Diversity and Inclusion Committee:
    If there are additional resources you would like added, or suggestions for long-term actions you would like to see implemented at McCombs, please email us.

Now, more than ever, we reaffirm and reinvigorate our commitment to support an equitable, inclusive, and just institution.

Please reach out directly to us for any support, guidance, and resources you need.

In support and solidarity,

Raji Srinivasan, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
AD D&I email

Lillian F. Mills, Interim Dean
MSB Dean email

Dear McCombs students,

You are my most important audience and the beating heart of Texas McCombs. As we move into the summer session, our faculty and staff continue to focus on your physical and mental health and safety, in addition to your academic needs.

The last three months have been unprecedented. We are battling a global pandemic that has tragically claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, with especially disparate impacts on Black and Latinx communities here in the U.S. For many of you, this has led to significant job uncertainty, and we have been abruptly uprooted from the Forty Acres and in-person connections with each other.

On top of that, the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black Americans pains and saddens me to my core. As my social media floods with articles and videos about racial injustice, it is clear the work is not done, and we must continue pushing for substantial and lasting change to combat corrosive, systemic racism. We hurt deeply for our Black community at McCombs and across UT.

Now, more than ever, we reaffirm and reinvigorate our commitment to support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Business schools have a unique opportunity to transform lives across the generations. For the past few years, McCombs has focused our efforts to create a more inclusive classroom and extracurricular environment for all McCombs students. We are also developing and implementing updated paths for faculty recruiting, curriculum enhancements, and community impact plans. I will keep you informed as we make more progress.

McCombs students, I ask you to join me in a commitment to learn, feel, and act in support of justice, equality, and equity in our communities and workplaces.

Today, I’m sharing immediate ways that you can help make a difference:

  1. Please add your name to our McCombs statement of support to stand for justice and equity, where more than 200 members of the McCombs community have already responded.
  2. Visit our online resources for information, support, and actions you can take.
  3. Email the McCombs Diversity and Inclusion Committee to suggest additional resources we could include or actions we should consider. We want all your ideas.

I am eager to greet all of you as we return to campus in August, as are my faculty and staff colleagues. I hope you will feel a sense of homecoming when we can connect again after our long absence, and please know that we will work together for every student’s experience to be one of maximum belonging. I miss you all!

Very truly yours,

Lillian F. Mills
Interim Dean
Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership
The Beverly H. and William P. O'Hara Endowed Chair in Business



Resources for our Community