A summer of protests against racial injustice prompted conversation and contemplation around the country and around the world. At the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, that important work is continuing, empowering voices through new initiatives.
One such initiative is the Smith Diversity Speakers Bureau, created this year by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the Office of Transformational Learning. It seeks to bring more Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) perspectives from the business world to the classroom and is a part of the school’s mission to diversify the curriculum, says Maryland Smith’s Jeanette Snider, M.Ed. ’11, PhD ’20.
“By getting more faces and voices in the classroom, we can create organic positive change,” says Snider, associate director of the undergraduate program at Maryland Smith. “It’s about having our students understand these speakers’ journeys to the positions they are currently in and how they look at the world or a specific field differently than anyone else.”
The initiative follows the Office of Transformational Learning’s infrastructure of bringing vetted speakers to Maryland Smith to provide students with even more fulfilling experiences in the classroom. Snider, along with Victor Mullins, associate dean of undergraduate programs and diversity officer for Maryland Smith, saw an opportunity to partner with the office to add more diverse voices to the mix. But that is where the other important component of crowdsourcing connections comes in, Snider says.
“We asked faculty to identify any great potential speakers within their network and notable alumni that can offer critical perspectives that will ultimately help our students from the graduate and undergraduate level receive a more well rounded educational experience," says Snider.
As she works to compile a list of speakers for the spring semester, Snider is encouraging others to stay engaged and to reach out to the Office of Transformational Learning if they know of a speaker who might share valuable insights that promote empathy and enrich the student experience.
“As time goes on, I believe we’ll have more people engaging with our students than ever before,” Snider says.
If you know of any Black or Latinx alumni or experts in your network that may serve as thought leaders at Maryland Smith, suggest them, with the nomination form.