When I was younger, my parents took my siblings and me to Ellis Island one Thanksgiving so that we could see where and how our ancestors (in my case, my great-grandparents) arrived in America. As we head toward this year’s Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.—and especially given the political turbulence of the past two weeks—I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for about my professional home here at the Yale School of Management.
At the school’s core is a community that welcomes and even celebrates diversity in all its forms. We have students who come from around the globe and across a broad spectrum of backgrounds and beliefs. This diversity, amplified by the school’s small size and cultivated by an active and open administration, leads to a culture in which differences of opinion and perspective are discussed in a positive and productive way.
This culture of openness has a long history at Yale. I was in China during the recent U.S. election and am always inspired by the fact that Yale was the first American university to award a degree to a Chinese citizen, Yung Wing, back in 1854. It was also the first to award a PhD to an African American, Edward Bouchet, in 1876 (he also graduated sixth in his class from Yale College and coincidentally was valedictorian of the high school I attended here in New Haven). This culture continues to this day at Yale SOM, whether through International Week, a celebration of our community’s cultural diversity; “BlackOut,” which honors the diversity of identities within the African diaspora and celebrates the richness of AfroHeritage; “Straight But Not Narrow,” a playful skit show that brings light to issues of gender identity and sexual orientation in the workplace; the annual Veterans Day Student Panel hosted by the Veterans Club; last week’s “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” event sponsored by the Women in Management Club and supported by over 100 students, faculty, and staff; and many other formal events and informal discussions occurring continuously throughout the year.
In short, this is a place where things happen and conversations take place. It isn’t always comfortable, but it is always safe and respectful. And it is always hopeful. Our mission of educating leaders for business and society draws people interested in making a positive difference in the world through their careers and their lives—an inherently optimistic outlook. We in the Yale School of Management Admissions Office see our role as bringing together individuals who are committed to our mission and committed to learning and leading in an open and inclusive way. I am thankful to be a part of that effort to sustain our rich community.