Last week, our school was shocked and outraged by a deplorable act of vandalism in the Krannert Drawing Room involving the portrait of Dr. Cornell Bell, our longtime BOP director. Dr. Bell was a legendary figure at the Krannert School, and he served as a mentor and surrogate parent for hundreds of Purdue students during his long and storied career. Although I did not have the privilege of working with him I have spoken to many of his students and faculty and staff members who interacted with him, and they share my anger and dismay that anyone at our university could be responsible for such a reprehensible act.
As we were made aware of the incident, we immediately reached out to students and alumni who saw the damaged portrait and expressed our sincere apologies. We filed a report with the Purdue Police Department, and I briefed several key administrators at Purdue, including our provost and vice provost for diversity and inclusion. We contacted student leaders and asked them to engage with Krannert faculty, staff and administration to help us move forward with not only confronting this incident but enabling us to develop a program for all of the Purdue/Krannert family to embrace diversity in its myriad of forms. The Society of Minority Managers is holding a forum later this week, and we encourage their actions to foster an open and meaningful discussion on the topic of diversity and inclusion. We also are investigating improvements we can make to security in the Drawing Room and other areas within the Krannert complex.
If there is any good that might come as a result of this misconduct on the part of unknown party(ies), it will be that we can come together as a group to help the school and university understand the best practices with regard to leveraging our diversity as a strength for the future and creating a sense of inclusiveness for the Purdue community. I am convening a task force, chaired by our director of diversity initiatives, Darren Henry, to develop a comprehensive program surrounding our diversity and inclusion efforts. The committee will include undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni. Its purpose will be to develop within our constituents a better appreciation for, and capability to engage, a diverse environment. The Krannert School has one of the most diverse student bodies of any business school in the world, and while we already espouse the importance of inclusion, I believe there is more that we can do to raise ourselves to a higher level.
We are working on a major framework for the school with regard to business leadership, and I believe that this would be an invaluable place for us to instill in all of our students the importance of diversity and inclusion both in the community and workplace. But this will also provide us with a program for our staff and faculty so that we might ensure all individuals at Krannert understand that diversity (both intranational and international) is a strength at Krannert that we might embrace as a key feature of our educational context.
While I'm very saddened that this horrible incident occurred, and that our students had to witness an ugliness I believe should never appear anywhere, let alone at a university whose mission is to foster the open embrace of diverse thinking and ways of interacting, I want to make certain that we at Purdue leverage this situation to create a positive outcome that will signal to everyone the importance of valuing diversity and creating an inclusive atmosphere. We will not tolerate this type of immoral and unethical behavior under any circumstance. We look forward to working with all members of the Purdue community to ensure that our diversity becomes a strength for all students, faculty, staff and alumni.
P. Christopher Earley
Dean and James Brooke Henderson Professor of Management