By: George Vlahakis
BLOOMINGTON AND INDIANAPOLIS — Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, has announced the next step in a broad initiative to creating thoughtful conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion. On Sept. 10, Kelley students, faculty and staff at IU Bloomington and IUPUI were asked to participate in “The Commons,” an effort to foster better understanding during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Each month, Kesner will announce a selection that students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to read, watch, or listen to on their own. At the end of the month, she will host a panel discussion about it with special guests that might include members of the Kelley community, experts from Indiana University, professionals from Kelley’s hiring companies, and local leaders.
Topics may include racism, immigration, LGBTQ+ issues, indigenous Americans, people with disabilities and cultural differences. Selections will include films in addition to books.
Her first selection for September is the 2019 New York Times best selling book “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi. It is available as a free e-book to students, faculty and staff through IU Libraries. The first panel discussion will take place virtually on Sept. 30 at 7:30 PM EDT. All degree-seeking undergraduate, graduate and online MBA and MS students are invited to participate. Panelists will be:
- Karen Bravo, the first person of color and the second woman to serve as dean of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law
- Charlotte Hawthorne, director for global diversity and inclusion at Eli Lilly and Company
- Lemuel Watson, IU associate vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs
Kendi’s previous book, “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2016. He is founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.
Professors are encouraged to look for ways to connect with students on the topic in classes. Student organizations are encouraged to carry on the conversation in their groups.
Kesner on Aug. 17 announced the appointment of a school-wide committee to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Chaired by Jason Brown, associate professor of accounting, the committee includes students, faculty and staff. It has been given a mission to “examine our systems, structures, and curricula for unconscious biases and opportunities to foster a culture of inclusion and respect.”
“I do hope you will join me in these discussions to further the conversation about the value of diversity in business and in our communities, and to help our students learn more about themselves and the society in which we live,” Kesner said.