From The Dean: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AT SPU
At the beginning of fall, we are yet again at a critical moment in our nation. The news continues to tell stories of racial pain, police brutality, injustice in the legal system, and mounting tensions. SPU is committed to deeply integrating diversity goals into the fabric of the institution, because the University values the representation and inclusion of diverse individuals in all our academic endeavors. In SBGE, our mission and our Christian values direct us to advance human flourishing and to see the image of God in each person. This cannot just be a belief without actions. We cannot say that we value the image of God in all people and then ignore our policies, hiring practices, and curriculums that perpetuate systemic racism. We need to uncover anything that promotes racial injustice and change it.
I am thankful for our students who help me to see better and do better, and for the leadership of our Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence Sandra Mayo. I encourage you to read her Q&A in this issue as she explains some of the changes we have made and are continuing to make as an institution. We want SBGE students to enter the workforce equipped to right historical wrongs through love and justice. This is what companies and organizations need and want right now.
We are deeply committed to the lifelong work of anti-racism, and I hope this issue encourages you on your own journey.
A CONVERSATION WITH SANDRA MAYO, VICE PROVOST OF INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE
During the 2015–16 school year, SPU students put forward a petition asking for changes to support and empower students of color at SPU. One of their requests was for a diversity officer, which was how Sandra Mayo came to the University in 2017, then as the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now as the vice provost for inclusive excellence, Dr. Mayo continues to develop an integrated vision and shared responsibility for diversity at SPU. We had a Zoom conversation with Dr. Mayo about the work she’s doing at SPU, some of the challenges, and where she finds hope.
Why did you accept the position at Seattle Pacific?
I was impressed that SPU was hosting open forums [about race] and that the conversation was a community conversation. That spoke volumes to me. In my early interview with President Martin, he said, “I’m looking for someone to partner with in this work.” I had never heard anyone say that before. Most of the time, institutions are looking for someone to fill this role because things have not gone well, and they’re in crisis mode. That phrasing said, “OK, you’re not trying to just put someone in the role and say, ‘Fix the problem.’” You’re saying, “How are we going to journey together?” For me, that was pretty remarkable and fairly rare in this work.
What are some of the changes that the Office of Inclusive Excellence is working on now? How will it affect the curriculum?
The curricular work started well before I arrived on campus. One of the things that students had been asking for was a required course that explores issues of diversity and inclusion, and confronts historical legacies and systems that repeat patterns of exclusion. In 2017, SPU implemented Cultural Understanding and Engagement course requirements (CUE).
On a department level, our history program just went through a whole revamp of their program to better address these issues. Our honors program did a complete overhaul in addressing both the curriculum and the structure of the program. And every academic department is working on a departmental readiness evaluation (DRE) to assess their own department’s progress around diversity and hiring practices to recruit and retain faculty of color.
One of the things I’m excited about is that my area is expanding, and our Faculty Life office is now coming under the umbrella of the Office of Inclusive Excellence. As we’re thinking about supporting faculty in their primary roles as teachers and researchers, there will be greater opportunities to better integrate principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, across the board.
How does your faith inspire you in this role?
There’s a quote that I refer to quite often, which says, “You’ll never look into the eyes of someone who’s not loved by God.” I keep that quote close, because we live in divisive times. It’s easy to see others as the opposition, but the heart of this work is about reconciliation and repair. As a Christian university, we are committing to this work — not because it is the politically correct thing to do or because it’s receiving national attention — but with a deep recognition that collectively, we have fallen short in terms of honoring the dignity of all individuals, particularly people of color. We have a responsibility as part of our calling as Christians to ensure that we preserve that imago dei — that image of God in each person.
What is difficult about this work?
The biggest challenge is historical inertia. How do you work against the momentum of hundreds of years of practices of racism? Good intentions are not enough. It won’t happen in a workshop. It’s really about removing institutional barriers and systemic biases. What we’re talking about is every person committing to life-long learning and then taking action. Short of that, we continue to return to this work with little progress.
What gives you hope about what’s happening at SPU?
I keep my hope in who we are as a community. I know there’s a desire to see this work grow and take hold and really make a difference for our students. When faculty, staff, and administrators hear the pain of our students. When they hear students saying they don’t see themselves in the curriculum. That is something they take seriously. Our shared commitment to students will help us to move forward in a positive direction.
OP-ED AND NEW BOOK FROM DR. BRENDA SALTER MCNEIL
Brenda Salter McNeil, associate professor of reconciliation studies, penned a powerful op-ed for The Seattle Times in June called “‘United’ States has never been honest about how hateful it is”. Dr. McNeil recently released her book, Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now, and was recently interviewed in SPU Stories.
RECOMMENDED READING (AND VIEWING)
Anti-racism is a lifelong journey, and education is an important ongoing step. We asked staff, alumni, and students about the books and films they’ve found enlightening. Here are some recommendations:
Slavery by Another Name: The Reenslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice by David Oshinsky
Cedric Davis MBA '08, senior philanthropic advisor at the Seattle Foundation, chair of SPU Board of Trustees
Two books that have greatly shaped my thinking about the history of Black Americans are Slavery By Another Name, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Worse Than Slavery. Both books explore the details of how Black folks went from being enslaved by slaveholders to being enslaved by the criminal justice system. What I learned from this troubling history is that injustice is like energy. You can’t cancel or kill out energy; it’s transferred from one thing to another. We can eliminate an injustice, but unless we are careful and watchful and have someone eradicating these oppressive systems, it will transfer to something else. We need to eradicate the racist, oppressive structures that those in power continue to build into our society.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Joshua Cooper ’13, CPA and manager specializing in diversity and inclusion at PwC, SBGE Executive Advisory Board member
Today, it is not enough to be “not racist,” you must be antiracist. How to Be an Antiracist is an eye-opening personal story that helps readers go from being aware of racism to actively dismantling racism. This book does a phenomenal job of showing how different dimensions of identity intersect with racism, including class, gender, sexuality, and more. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the social power construct of race and how it either advantages or disadvantages them in their everyday life, but more importantly to anyone who wants to be able to identify and oppose racism in our systems and interpersonal interactions. This book will send you on a lifelong journey to unlearn what has been ingrained in you since birth. As Ibram X. Kendi says, “We can unknowingly strive to be a racist. We can knowingly strive to be an antiracist. Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.”
The Vintage Book of African American Poetry: 200 Years of Vision, Struggle, Power, Beauty, and Triumph From 50 Outstanding Poets edited and with an introduction by Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton
Kate Barker, Program Coordinator in the Center for Applied Learning
I had the opportunity to spend two days at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., last summer. The experience was profound. The space itself is a physical experience of going back through African American history, and going deep. It’s painful and grievous. The architecture of the building brings you up to a place of reflection, before rising up to a celebration of Black lives and culture. I picked up a few books from the gift shop at the end of my too-short visit, one of which is The Vintage Book of African American Poetry: 200 Years of Vision, Struggle, Power, Beauty, and Triumph From 50 Outstanding Poets. This collection of poetry helps me listen to the voices of today in light of the choir of lyrical voices from the past 200 years. I recommend it as a way to better understand America today.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby
Sandra Mayo, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence
For Christians who care about racism in the church and in our country, I highly recommend reading The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism. We invited Jemar Tisby to speak to a packed room on campus Jan. 22, 2020, about the connection between the church and racism throughout American history. The lecture and the book are both compelling and provide practical steps for Christians to take in fighting their own complicity in institutional racism both individually and corporately.
Film: I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson
Kathleen Cochran, SBGE Executive Assistant
After the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, I reflected upon James Baldwin, whose writings on racism reshaped my views in college. I reread The Fire Next Time and came across a documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, inspired by James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, a collection of notes and letters written by Baldwin in the mid-1970s. The manuscript chronicles Baldwin’s life through the civil rights movement, recounting the lives of his friends and civil rights leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers. Peck’s documentary uses both excerpts from this unfinished manuscript along with Baldwin’s published works and various television clips.
I Am Not Your Negro is a portrait of Baldwin’s life and more broadly of America’s ongoing racial dilemma. It is not an easy-to-watch, feel-good movie, but it is the opposite of despairing.
Baldwin never seems to give up in the face of insurmountable obstacles, challenging us all as well. “Not everything that is faced can be changed,” he said. “But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Film: Just Mercy, co-written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx
Bonnie Tran, junior, business administration major and vice president of talent management of SPU’s Student Investment Fund
As an international student from Vietnam, I was shocked by America’s diverse population when I arrived in 2015. Where I was born and raised, people look just like me. Back then, I didn’t understand what racism felt like or what microaggressions sounded like; but throughout my time at SPU, I explored topics like race, justice, love, mercy, and homelessness. My favorite learning experience was when SPU held a screening of Just Mercy back in January 2020. The movie is based on lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s memoir of the same name. The film centers on the trial of Walter McMillian, aka “Johnny D,” a Black man who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman in Monroeville, Alabama in the 1980s.
It was an emotional film that shed light on some of the disparities and injustices present in the legal system. I recommend watching the original 60-Minutes clip from 1992, which is referenced in the movie. I re-watched this movie with my Vietnamese family over the summer, and it taught us many valuable lessons about racism and the legal system that we did not learn about in Vietnam.
APPLY FOR OUR ONLINE MASTER' S DEGREE IN DATA ANALYTICS
If you love data and analytics and are looking to take the next step in your career, apply for our Master of Science in Data Analytics in Business (MS-DAB). The degree can be completed at your own pace — online or in the evenings on campus. For winter enrollment, apply by Nov. 1.
FAITH & CO. RELEASES NEW VIDEOS AND BONUS CONTENT
Faith & Co. will release eight new films this fall. Their website also offers more than 150 bonus clips, which include important topics such as the cost of reconciliation, caring for employees, and humility. The new course, Business on Purpose, started Sept. 21, but late registrations will be accepted.
ACLU ATTORNEY CAPTIVATES STUDENTS AT DEAN’S SPEAKER SERIES
Twyla Carter, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU national office in New York who used to work for the King County Department of Public Defense, spoke to students as part of the SBGE Dean’s Speaker Series in March.
Her lecture to students is well-worth watching or listening to as she unpacks some of the disparities in the criminal legal system. “All it takes to be my [public defense] client is to be poor and have someone make a public accusation against you. That’s it,” she said.
Carter talked about the right to representation by a lawyer, race disproportionality in the criminal legal system, and bail reform. “You know the bail system is flawed when a person who might actually be a danger to the community for real, for real, has the money to pay to get out of jail, but a poor person who throws a rock through the window cannot,” she said. “People plead guilty to get out of jail ... and then the collateral consequences from that conviction follow you around in this country for the rest of your life.”
Carter implored students to educate themselves about issues in the criminal legal system. “I need you to really think about this. Because these are some of the changes that I need you all to make as you move forward with your careers and your lives as adults.”
WATCH POLLARD FELLOWSHIP PRESENTATIONS ON ZOOM
The Bill Pollard Faith & Business Research Fellowship was developed to bridge the gap between the work of academic business scholars and business practice. Join us on Zoom from 1 to 2:30 p.m. PST, Oct. 27, to hear from Dr. Helen Chung and Dr. Marcus Brauer as they discuss their papers on faith in the workplace at ServiceMaster. Dr. Chung’s paper is titled, “Servant Leadership at ServiceMaster: A Commitment to Love, Development, and Diversity.” Dr. Brauer’s paper is “Workplace Spirituality and the Tension Between Profit and People: the ServiceMaster Case.” The first 25 to register for the event will receive a copy of the book, The ServiceMaster Story: Navigating the Tension between People and Profit, by Albert Erisman.
Three beloved SBGE members: Denise Daniels, Gene Kim, and Jackie Miller have moved on from Seattle Pacific.
After 24 years at SPU, Denise Daniels, professor of management, took a faculty position at her alma mater, Wheaton College, to become their inaugural Hudson T. Harrison Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship. Gene Kim served as the director of the Center for Integrity in Business, and Jackie Miller was the associate director of graduate programs. All three will be extremely missed, and we wish them well in their endeavors.