Dean Peter Rodriguez

Message from the Dean - June 15, 2020:

Task Force on Racial Equity and Social Justice

In recent weeks, our public spaces, homes and hearts have been transformed by a collective experience of grief, despair and urgency. We have entered a new chapter of a conversation that has been going on for centuries in communities across the United States, in institutions of higher education, in neighborhoods and in businesses. The sad and shocking recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and of so many other Black Americans, did not start a new conversation; rather, the responses in the U.S. and across the world have demonstrated that an old and all too familiar conversation must continue if we are to be a nation that upholds the values of equality and justice. Vividly exposed in late May and early June, a stream of ideas, concerns and questions about our nation and the sufficiency of its commitment to equality have coalesced into an undeniable call to action.
 
We are called to ask “What must we do?”

  • What must we do to ensure that our curriculum, our programs, our courses, our research and scholarship, and our external engagement promote inclusion and confront and repair injustice?
  • What actions should we take to assure all members of the Rice Business community that they matter, are equally valued, and are seen and safe?
  • What must we do to ensure that our institution properly answers the call to improve our world, by strengthening organizations, contributing positively to society, and fostering fruitful coexistence in our communities?

To assist in answering and addressing these questions and to complement concurrent efforts Rice Business is pursuing towards the same end, I have established the Rice Business Task Force on Racial Equity and Social Justice.

Charge:

The Rice Business Task Force on Racial Equity and Social Justice is charged with researching, evaluating and recommending actions to be taken by Rice Business to promote racial equity and social justice. The actions recommended by the task force will be advanced through our teaching mission, the use of our convening power for discussions among members of our community and with leaders of organizations, the delivery of educational experiences that acknowledge and address issues of injustice in society and the support and promotion of research on matters of diversity and inclusion.
 
Particular recommendations from the task force are neither prescribed nor proscribed by this charge, but may include topics such as the following:

  • Programmatic additions and changes, such as the establishment of new courses or co-curricular seminars and activities
  • Providing resources to promote anti-racism teaching, self-education and personal development
  • Providing resources for scholarship and the development of teaching materials directed at issues of racial justice, equity and inclusion
  • Recommending organizational changes that will advance task force goals
  • Developing best practices for the recruitment of faculty, staff and students

To fulfill its charge, the task force must engage broadly with the Rice Business community and is encouraged to coordinate its efforts with and seek the assistance of the many leaders, committees and organizations within the community, comprising students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Task Force Composition:

The Task Force shall include up to 18 members drawn from each of the following groups and meant to represent a broad sample of our community: graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Council of Overseers. The task force will include at least five currently enrolled Rice Business students and at least three faculty members. The dean, in consultation with leaders across the school, will solicit and appoint members of the task force and will select two members to serve as co-chairs.

Timing:

The task force shall hold their first meeting on or before July 10, 2020 and will remain in operation until December 18, 2020. At that time, the task force, with the approval of the dean, will either transition its charge and the execution of its recommendations to other groups or offices at Rice Business, or have been replaced by a yet-to-be-constituted task force or steering committee. 
 
The task force is asked to submit an initial set of recommendations to the dean on or before October 2, 2020. It is required to communicate its final recommendations on or before December 18, 2020, in writing and via presentation to the dean and other constituencies of Rice Business. The task force may also share interim recommendations that may require that actions be taken before October 2, as soon as its members recommend doing so. These recommendations will be reviewed by the dean.

Sincerely,
Peter Rodriguez, dean
 

 


Message from the Dean - June 2, 2020:

On the heels of a challenging spring dominated by public health concerns, we begin the month of June with the solemn recognition of our nation’s poor social health. This weekend, protests sparked by the tragic death of former Houstonian George Floyd filled the streets of more than 140 U.S. cities, as well as cities in the U.K., New Zealand and across the world. Events of recent weeks, from New York City’s Central Park to Southeast Georgia and finally to Minneapolis, have highlighted enduring inequities in our nation and the injustice, fear and pain they especially cause for Black Americans, and their cancerous effects on our society. 

This moment in our history makes it seem that the needle of social progress is stuck or even tilting backwards. Upsetting as these moments are, we must meet them with expressions of empathy, the resolve to stand for justice and a reaffirmation of our commitment to an open, diverse, welcoming and unified campus community. We must call out injustice and inequity that affects any member of our community. Failing to do so weakens the bonds that support all of us and threatens the fundamental promise of higher education to provide opportunity and fairness to all. 

Let us stand with and speak out with Rice Provost Reggie DesRoches, who in his statement on the death of George Floyd wrote: 

"This will not change until all of us, not just those in the minority, speak out and say that this is unacceptable."

Let us embrace and act upon Rice University President David Leebron's message:

"We must work to build an inclusive environment, one that respects and values people from different backgrounds. We must take part in efforts to reduce the deadly discrimination and racism that is an unstaunched wound in our national fabric."

We belong to a kind, generous and welcoming university with the most diverse MBA program in the United States in the most diverse city in the United States. Only together were we able to develop our strong and cherished community, and only together can we ensure justice for all in our society.

Sincerely,
Peter Rodriguez, dean
 

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