A Message from Dean Deborah Crown
In response to the tragic events of the past months, President Cornwell recently wrote in his message to the College, “Our nation, for all of its promise, is infected with racism in its very core; we have never had the moral fortitude to engage in our own process of truth and reconciliation…At Rollins, we are a community grounded in a mission that inspires us to serve others with humility, kindness, and compassion, presuming a fundamental equality of moral worth and mutual respect towards all persons.”
I share President Cornwell’s commitment to racial justice, and I am moved by the pain and distress of the black community, as well as the passion exuded by millions of people of all backgrounds demanding change.
As the entire country reflects on how we think and talk about racial justice, at Crummer we are also taking this opportunity to examine the issue both inwardly and externally. We know that our first step must be focused on listening and learning.
The opening article in this month’s newsletter focuses on four of our alumni who share their insights and suggestions with us. I appreciate the candor and wisdom John Gill `89MBA, Olive Gaye ‘09MBA, Ja’Mara Washington `16MBA, and Tadar Muhammad `17MBA provide. All of them communicate the importance of having conversations about racial justice, even when it’s uncomfortable and/or complicated.
In close partnership with Rollins’ racial justice initiatives, Crummer is facilitating conversations within our own community. We have launched a discussion/convening group, facilitated by Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, to examine racial justice while offering all of us the opportunity to reflect and learn from one another. To aid listening and learning among and between Crummer students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members, we envision the use of smaller discussion-sized groups as well as opportunities for larger discussions and convening sessions.
Our alumni—Gaye, Gill, Muhammad and Washington—suggest that conversations about racial justice should include a solution-oriented mindset, with CEO Gaye adding, “The current climate provides the opportunity for business leaders to start this conversation, which when meaningful, can change the world around us.”
As we advance throughout the learning, self-reflective process, we must also examine and evaluate our own practices. At Crummer, we must seize this opportunity to ensure that our Crummer community is welcoming and inclusive.
And while it is critical that we examine and move forward racial justice internally, we also have an obligation to facilitate discussions and think about how Crummer can assist in advancing the cause of racial justice in our business community and beyond. At Crummer, our mission is to build global, responsible, and innovative business leaders. Our mission, deeply rooted in immersive experiences with diverse perspectives and people, gives us an extraordinary opportunity, and obligation, to be at the forefront of this conversation within the business community and use these discussions to create change.
Our different Crummer centers are also a part of facilitating this conversation within the non-profit and entrepreneurial communities. Our Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, for example, is featuring racial justice conversations as part of its Timely Talks series. Earlier this month, local nonprofit leaders, including Secily Wilson of WOW Legacy Group, Dionne Coleman of Samaritan Village, John Gill of Quest, Rosene Johnson of the Pace Center for Girls, and Tadar Muhammad of the Home Builders Institute convened virtually as part of the series to share their thoughts on the role of nonprofits around the issue of racial justice. In our second session, Dr. Ruth Edwards of the Winter Park Library shared her experience as an author and racial equality advocate and discussed how nonprofits need to help improve the social climate during a wave of societal unrest.
We are also launching a series of articles in this newsletter, profiling voices and thoughts from members of our community. We are fortunate to have the advice and reflections of our own alumni in today’s newsletter.
As we move forward, my promise to you is that we will listen, learn, respect the voices and experiences of our black colleagues, students, alumni and stakeholders, and commit ourselves to working to create a more inclusive and equitable community here at Crummer. I invite you to join us in this endeavor.
Deborah Crown, Ph.D.
Dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College