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Community Connects to Advance Diversity

In May 2020, the death of George Floyd generated intense emotion for people all over the world. It was a time of outrage and also a time of great energy and focus.

Like so many others, the members of the greater Lundquist College of Business–Portland community were driven to find a way to express their feelings and use what they felt to power transformative action.

Responding decisively to this need, Executive Director Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, PhD, brought together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and industry leaders for a series of online meetings, with the goal of making positive change.

These meetings were the start of the Portland programs" new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee.

Discussions among group members revealed a handful of broad goals:

  • The imperative to grow the number of diverse students in the UO Sports Product Management and Oregon Executive MBA programs
  • The necessity of ensuring an inclusive experience for all students in these graduate programs
  • The college's unique capability to provide a meeting ground for working with brands and organizations to share and develop best practices for growing diversity and inclusion in the business world.

To address these challenges, three sub-committees formed—with results already being put into action.

Increasing Classroom Representation

In the Academics and Curriculum group, Lundquist College Professor Emeritus Roger Best teamed with current UO Sports Product Management student Martin Famorca and executive MBA faculty member Kathy Long Holland to broaden representation in the classroom by developing case studies featuring diverse businesses and individuals.

The first study in this planned series will be available for classroom use starting in winter term 2021. In it, Best, Famorca, and Long Holland provide an in-depth look at the career journey of Oregon Executive MBA alumna Domonique Debnam, an accomplished Black professional who is currently a senior director at Nike.

The group is also working to ensure greater diversity in the classroom, both by expanding student recruiting efforts and seeking a more diverse group of guest speakers and faculty members.

Fostering a Welcoming Community

The Student Engagement group has already scheduled the first of its new quarterly community networking sessions designed for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. Plans are also in the works for a similarly themed speaker series as well as equity and inclusion trainings.

Building a Team of Rivals

Staying true to their mission of uniting business and academia, the members of the Industry Engagement group have launched an initiative inspired by the United Nations, offering the Lundquist College as a neutral space in which competing organizations can unite to develop more just and equitable workplaces.

“When the college is the host, no single company can be perceived as the dominant voice. Building a better world is a project for all brands—and can only be achieved when we all work together. That's why we call it the U.N. Initiative," said Schmidt-Devlin.

On Thursday, November 19, representatives from adidas, Allbirds, Columbia Sportswear, Goodwill, Hadar Athletic, Handful, Huckberry, Lululemon Athletica, and Nike will join Lundquist College personnel at the first meeting of the college's U.N. Initiative. Future meetings will take place in January, April, and June 2021. (For information about joining this group, please contact Brock Forrette at

Shaping a Brighter Future

For Schmidt-Devlin, the work of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee is vital to the continued success of the Lundquist College and also the business community.

“What we do today benefits not only our students who identify as BIPOC but all our students. Today's increasingly diverse workplaces demand an inclusive mindset and so do the customers our nation's industries serve," said Schmidt-Devlin.