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Moving Forward After a Hurtful Act

Dear McCombs Community,

This morning, a racially offensive image was exhibited on the front entrance to my office suite as part of an annual holiday decorating contest for McCombs School employees. My leadership team removed it within minutes of it being brought to our attention.

I vehemently condemn the spirit, tone, and content of this image. The fact that this happened is a call to action.

I am taking the following steps to foster a culture of diversity, inclusion, and respect:

I will meet with student groups as well as staff and faculty as quickly as possible to hear their perspectives, insights, and suggestions. Please reach out to me at to begin that process.

I will also be holding open office hours (Dean’s Office, GSB 2.104) on Thursday, December 7, from 1 – 5 p.m. to discuss these issues.

Out of these conversations will come recommendations, and I will respond with a plan of action.

We have been exploring the idea of appointing a Chief Diversity Officer for the school, as recommended by our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and today’s incident has confirmed that such a position is necessary. I will inform the McCombs community of this addition to our leadership team at the earliest possible date.

We will also bring in an expert from outside the business school to take a thorough look at our culture and climate, and advise us on specific steps we can take to improve. The need for such an outside perspective became clear today, showing that what we are doing is not enough.

McCombs is a school and community where every student, faculty, and staff member should feel welcome and know they belong. This morning’s incident demonstrates that we are not there yet — but deepens my resolve to get there.

Sincerely yours,

Jay Hartzell, Dean


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