On Friday, Sept. 16, Douglas A. Shackelford announced his resignation as Dean of UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School. With the departure of Dean Shackelford, I strongly believe that there is now a chance to heal Kenan-Flagler after years of leadership and actions that directly contradict the institution’s stated mission to build and inspire leaders who make the world a better place.
Kenan-Flagler does not prioritize the success of all students, and has made it very clear that if something is not revenue-generating, there is no room for it. This mindset is dangerous and has contributed to a mental health crisis on campus, important members of the faculty and staff leaving and students/alumni who speak of having PTSD from their time at Kenan-Flagler.
I am hopeful that my public perspective, which is supported by students, alumni, staff and faculty — who sadly have kept their sentiments private over the years — helps to illuminate how we must do better when selecting the next leader of Kenan-Flagler.
I talk to students. All the time. And they tell me what is going on. How they feel unsafe and unsupported at the business school. How they dread going to the business school campus. All the things I felt as an MBA student, and still feel today as a faculty member and alumnus.
Buildings do not make institutions. People and the values they act on (not say) are what determine the culture of an institution. I understand how someone can come to Kenan-Flagler expecting one thing, and then have to deal with the reality of what they’ve signed up for. It’s all a lie.
The truth is that Kenan-Flagler Business School has a diversity issue. KFBS ranks 73 out of 84 MBA programs, according to Bloomberg Businessweek’s B-School Diversity Index.
Last month, both co-leads of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative at Kenan-Flagler resigned from their positions. I am not here to speak on their behalf. I can only express that I am not surprised that they’ve decided to move on after doing their best within the toxic culture under Dean Shackelford.
There is a pattern here, and it is that Kenan-Flagler’s mission and actions were often misaligned under Dean Shackelford. This is not the type of leadership that the Kenan-Flagler Business School needs.
I've done my best to speak up on the issues at Kenan-Flagler, while actively being part of the solution. For example, I‘ve spent years demanding for a more diverse faculty. I do not take it lightly that I’m a 34-year-old Black man on the faculty of a top business school. I take pride in leading my students through a journey of discovery, and I will continue to mentor students on campus, and support alumni who are enthusiastic about entrepreneurship. I will give directly to student organizations and will show up when called upon.