Message from the Dean

Black Lives Matter

The death of George Floyd challenges the Maxwell School and its communities to work toward equality for all.

It’s often true that communities grow stronger when tested by crisis. Or illness. Or sometimes even violent acts so egregious they challenge the way we think about our community and force us to reexamine ourselves, our leaders, our institutions, and the future.

As I write this letter, the country watches the burial of George Floyd, and we face the undeniable truth that despite our shared belief in the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and hundreds of years working to achieve justice for all, we are still failing our Black and Brown brothers and sisters. We have a lot of work to do as a country to overturn systemic racism, violence, and inequality. And, as the racist, anti-Semitic, and hateful acts that occurred on our own campus last fall illustrate, we have a lot of work to do on our campus as well.

I’m heartbroken and sickened by these events. But, I am also resolved that the work of our School, the work of our University, and the work of our student leaders can and will help us to achieve our collective goals of equality for all. At Maxwell, we will continue to actively recruit and retain faculty of color, and work with alumni on the development of affinity groups with a focus on racial justice. We will strengthen a diverse curriculum to be even more inclusive and accessible, to reckon with the long record of racial and ethnic injustice over human history and, in particular, in the United States.

We have a lot of work to do as a country to overturn systemic racism, violence, and inequality.

My first draft of this letter was written before Mr. Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. I wrote about the challenges and achievements of the rapid response to COVID-19 by our School, an introduction to which you will read on the following pages. I wrote of the ways in which everyone in our community came together and took action in response to an unprecedented global health and economic crisis, about our connectedness, and how so many worked to ensure the mutual health, well-being, and success of everyone in our community, especially those bearing unequal challenges and risks. It was hard work and still is. But I remain optimistic that the Maxwell community will create a rigorous academic experience for students and use scholarship and practice to inform dialogue and decision-making toward more positive outcomes for all.

Similarly, I ask you all to do your part—to act—to ensure the health, well-being, and success of each and every person in our community; to promote safety, inclusion, and equality for those who are marginalized and threatened; and to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

I will report to you in the coming weeks and months on work that Maxwell is doing, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback. I want to hear and understand your challenges, your efforts, and your successes. We must do this together. All of us.

David M. Van Slyke

Dean, Maxwell School

Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy