From the Dean

Fostering Courageous Conversations and Action

headshot of LMU SOE Dean Michelle D. Young, Ph.D.

The Black Lives Matters movement has had one of the most profound impacts on education and society in years. As it swept across the country drawing attention to systemic racism, it created new opportunities for conversations, commitments and action. Since joining the LMU School of Education as Dean in July 2020, systemic racism has played a central role in my conversations about the school, the challenges it faces, and its many opportunities. These conversations with students, alumni, faculty, staff and partners were initial steps toward substantive change.

As an institution, the SOE has sought to understand and respond to social inequities and historical forces of oppression in order to eradicate them, by training future teachers, counselors and leaders to deliver high-quality educational experiences for all children and by directly engaging with educators in the field. This is bolstered by the SOE’s commitment to developing what we call REAL educational professionals who:

  • Respect and Value All Individuals;
  • Educate by Integrating Theory and Practice;
  • Advocate for Access to a Socially Just Education; and
  • Lead in Order to Facilitate Transformation.

In my first year as dean, I created two critical infrastructure supports to bolster this work. Specifically, I established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Committee (DAC) and an Associate Dean position focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to coordinate and lead our efforts in this area. 

The SOE’s DAC, which was formally established in August 2020, is a standing committee responsible for collaboratively leading, designing, and coordinating equity, inclusion, and diversity-related processes and programs for the SOE. This committee, as its name portends, has a bias toward action. More information on this committee and its activities can be found here

In January 2021, Dr. William Perez was appointed as our first Associate Dean for DEI; in September 2022, Dr. William Parham became the second. Parham, a professor of counseling and psychology, also serves as co-chair of SOE’s DAC with Dr. Maia Hoskin. In this role, Dr. Parham will ensure that our SOE community makes progress on the DEI goals we have set together, and also supports faculty development in the areas of research and teaching. 

Both of these steps were informed by our community—voices urging substantive action in a timely manner—and they are intended to support the SOE community and to ensure that our programs, practices, and culture reflect our core values and beliefs. They also play a significant role in supporting the Institutional Reflection process described by LMU President Timothy Law Snyder in his June 2020 message Beyond Words. Most recently, the SOE community has worked with the DAC to finalize and approve of our DEIAJ Framework, which represents an important first step in achieving the SOE’s strategic goal to “support its mission and vision by integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout SOE programs, practices, and partnerships.” Over the next five years, the SOE has committed to the following objectives to support this goal: 

  1. All SOE programs, practices, and partnerships will reflect the SOE's commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and social justice.
  2. The SOE will increase the diversity of its faculty, staff, and student populations, thereby contributing to LMU's desire to increase the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff.
  3. The SOE will audit and revise all programs' curricula to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
  4. The SOE will become the first SOE in the country to offer a Seal of Biliteracy and/or Bicultural Badge through all of its programs.

Given SOE’s long-held commitments to social justice, cultural responsiveness, collaboration, community engagement, and critical reflection, we see this work as part of our mission and as crucial to our ongoing transformation. 

The SOE community is charting a new path—one that pushes back against systemic racism and fosters diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and social justice in the SOE, LMU, and the world at large. I look forward to engaging in this important work with all of you.

In solidarity,

Michelle D. Young, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean
LMU School of Education

November 2020