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.

To support SOE’s commitment to this work, I’ve taken two important steps to date. First, I’ve established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Committee (DAC) to coordinate our efforts in this area. Second, I’ve created a new leadership position within the school of Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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

As of January 1, 2021, Dr. Will Perez, co-chair of SOE’s DAC and Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration, will become SOE’s first Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In this role, Dr. Perez will ensure that our SOE community makes progress on the DEI goals we set together, and he will support faculty development in the areas of research and teaching. Going forward, my intention is to invite colleagues to serve in this role for a period of three years, at the end of which a new Associate Dean will be named. This practice will help SOE develop its leadership capacity in this area as well as usher in new ideas, perspectives, and expertise. 

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. Given SOE’s long-held commitments to social justice, cultural responsiveness, collaboration, community engagement, and critical reflection, we are primed to lead on these matters. The new SOE committee and leadership support will bolster our mission, our efforts, and our impact, making our commitment to DEI crystal-clear in all that we do.

These changes are just the beginning of what will be an ongoing process of transformation. It takes courage to move from talk to action. Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni,  together are charting a new path for the SOE one that will push against systemic racism and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion 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