Message to Stanford GSB Students After Charlottesville

Written

Message to Stanford GSB Students After Charlottesville

Dean Jonathan Levin shares his reflections with the Stanford GSB campus community following the recent violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
August 22, 2017
Stanford GSB campus | John Verducci

Dear Stanford GSB Students,

A week has passed since the terrible events in Charlottesville. I expect that for many of you it has been a tumultuous time, and a time of reflection. It has been for me. The idea that bigotry, hatred and Nazi symbolism might somehow have found a place in this country is appalling, and it is profoundly tragic that Heather Heyer was killed for taking the morally correct side and acting on her beliefs by participating in the counter-protest.

I grew up in this country believing that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, and that in America people who would vocally advocate for racism, anti-semitism and white supremacism would be marginalized by all reasonable citizens. I continue to believe it, but the events of last week are a stark reminder that we all must be dedicated and mindful of this effort.

I know that if fall quarter was upon us, the Knight Management Center would be resounding with discussion of what has happened and what actions students might take in response. Those of us here on campus already are discussing these issues. I am proud of the Stanford GSB culture that seeks to change the world for the better, through principle, through leadership and through personal action. When all of you are here in September, I anticipate many discussions among you about what has happened, and how we as a community might respond. In the meantime, please know that the MBA, MSx, and PhD staff are available to talk with you and support you now and in the coming weeks.

Over the last week, many business leaders and CEOs have spoken out about Charlottesville, and it has triggered a discussion about the role that business leaders should play in social and political issues. This is an important topic for all of us to consider and debate when you return this fall. Sometimes business leaders can play an important role by stepping back, lowering the temperature, and fostering informed and productive dialogue. In other cases, there is a need to speak with moral clarity. I believe the events in Charlottesville require moral clarity.

I also would like to share with you a statement from university leaders to all Stanford students, offering support.

Despite recent events, I hope that other parts of your summer have been rewarding and productive. In a month, we all will be together as a community on campus. Let us see the coming year as an opportunity to contribute to a world in much need of unity and goodwill.

Jonathan Levin, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business

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