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A message to the Penn State Smeal Community from Dean Charles Whiteman

September 4, 2020

Together, we can make our college a shining example of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the entire University Community.

In a recent Town Hall Zoom meeting of faculty and staff Wednesday morning, I shared my continued frustration over the unequal and unfair treatment of people of color across America. Like many of you, I find myself in search of a new, perhaps more forceful way to express outrage over the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man in Kenosha, Wis

Truth be told, I’ve run out of words.

Yet, amid the anger, fear, and sadness harbored by so many of us, it is possible to find inspiration in the passion for and commitment to change. Such was the case last week during a meeting of the Smeal Board of Visitors, a group of alumni leaders with whom I routinely collaborate on strategic issues important to the college.

A conversation enhanced by the presence of Head Football Coach James Franklin revealed a deep sense of optimism that the Penn State Community – and especially the Smeal College of Business -- can and will be a model for a more just and equitable society. There were plenty of strong, highly respected alumni voices in the Zoom room, including board members Wanda Hope, chief diversity and inclusion officer for Johnson & Johnson; Jerome Griffith, CEO of Lands’ End; and Troy Cromwell, a former PSU football player and president of Centennial Technologies Inc. The insights and enthusiasm conveyed by these leaders can be summarized in a simple but profound statement: We are Penn State. And we stand ready to meet the challenge.

Earlier this week, President Barron, in a letter to the University Community, called on all Penn Staters to “stand up for what is right and change what is wrong in our everyday lives.” I echo Dr. Barron’s sentiments and reaffirm my steadfast support for Smeal’s Diversity Taskforce and committees that are working hard to finalize our Diversity Statement and positively impact our employment, engagement, and training practices within the college.

Perhaps Jamie Campbell, assistant dean for diversity enhancement programs, said it best at the end of our meeting Wednesday: “We’re not talking, we’re working,” he said, encouraging us to avoid conflating words and deeds.

I agree.

So, as we together mourn another senseless, tragic death and heart-wrenching injustice, let us accelerate the momentum toward positive change here at Smeal. Together, we can make our college a shining example of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the entire University Community.

Sincerely,

Dean's Signature

Charles H. Whiteman Dean

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