(July 1, 2020) The brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have brought American society to a long overdue moment of reckoning with systemic and institutional racism. I want to reaffirm that Kellogg stands with our Black community and we are deeply committed to creating an inclusive environment in which everyone affiliated with the school feels a sense of belonging, respect and empowerment.
Kellogg has a great responsibility, and distinct ability, to shape extraordinary leaders who create meaningful change in business and society. Over the past several weeks, I have engaged with students, alumni, faculty and staff to hear their perspectives and seek their input on the critical issue of diversity, equity and inclusion. We must engage with one another honestly and make bold choices in order for us to live our values and achieve our vision for a more inclusive Kellogg.
I want to share the next steps in this important work. While these actions will move us down the path, we know meaningful change will take time, and I am committed to a long-term effort to remove barriers to equity at Kellogg. Change will also require a financial commitment, and we have earmarked Kellogg funds for this purpose. I am asking for your active partnership in, and commitment to, the work ahead.
Appointment of Bernard Banks to lead Kellogg’s inclusion efforts
Bernard Banks ’08 has agreed to lead Kellogg’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and serve as a member of my senior leadership team. Bernie joined Kellogg as the associate dean for leadership development and as a clinical professor of management in 2016. In that role, he possessed responsibility for leader development integration across our global portfolio of programs. Prior to Kellogg, Bernie retired from the United States Army as a Brigadier General after having successfully led West Point's Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership from 2012-2016. Before joining the West Point faculty and senior leadership team, he led multiple highly diverse military units ranging in size from 10 to 3,000 people. In addition to his Kellogg MBA, he holds a Ph.D. in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University. Bernie has deep expertise in driving change efforts, including his work at Kellogg to advance co-curricular innovations.
Formation of Kellogg Inclusion Coalition
In his expanded role as associate dean for leadership development and inclusion, Bernie will join me in launching and co-chairing the new Kellogg Inclusion Coalition. This standing group will be formed by the end of July and will be composed of faculty, staff, students and alumni. It will be charged with gathering data and insights, identifying opportunities for systemic change, establishing measures of success and driving implementation of Kellogg’s inclusion efforts. The Coalition will integrate and build upon efforts already underway at Kellogg.
Bernie will be reaching out in the near future to the Kellogg community to solicit participation in the Coalition. I am pleased to announce that professors Nicole Stephens, Lauren Rivera and Nicholas Pearce have all agreed to serve on the Coalition, bringing their expertise to benefit Kellogg.
Deepening our understanding of the experiences of students, faculty, staff and alumni at Kellogg will be essential for charting our path forward. The first priority of the Coalition will be to create structured forums and systems for gathering and analyzing new and existing data on what is transpiring within the Kellogg community today with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Coalition will explore both qualitative and quantitative data to determine where the greatest opportunities for change and improvement lie. Active, candid and forthright participation from our Kellogg community will be encouraged and vital to this work.
In addition to resources Kellogg has designated, we are also committed to fundraising in support of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. We are proud to announce the establishment of the Chookaszian Family Fund for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a $550,000 endowment created by Dennis Chookaszian BS ’65 and Karen Chookaszian, that will support new initiatives recommended by the Coalition.
Meaningful change will require sustained dedication and accountability for progress on my part, and among my leadership team. We will regularly provide updates on our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including new commitments to action. This will include quarterly town halls with students, staff and faculty beginning this fall in which we will share progress and next steps.
We know that we have much work to do, and these are just preliminary steps. Thank you for your shared commitment to this critical work. I am confident that the Kellogg values of empathy and collaboration that are in our DNA will serve as fuel for the work ahead.