Michigan Ross Makes a Positive Difference and Stands United Against Hate


The events last weekend in Charlottesville have hit our nation, and our communities hard. And just yesterday, a terrorist attack struck Barcelona. I’ve found myself thinking about these tragic events a lot this past week, as we all have.

In the last four days, I’ve also had the privilege of watching 422 new MBA students from 44 different countries meet each other for the first time and come together to accomplish incredible things during our annual Impact Challenge.

This week, while we’re dealing with challenging times as a nation, our students have inspired us. They’ve exemplified one of the reasons I am so proud of and so passionate about our community – because we are a community that is full of talented people who care. We care about one another, our community, our countries of origin, and our friends and colleagues across the globe.

This week, our students came together to help 15 Detroit entrepreneurs make an incredible impact in the food landscape of one of America’s classic cities that is undergoing an amazing rebirth. What they accomplished in four days – new business plans, business model innovations, new go-to-market strategies, websites, social media campaigns, etc – was nothing short of remarkable. To a person, every entrepreneur we partnered with this week was grateful and inspired, and our students made a lasting impact in their businesses and in their lives.

And at the same time, these same students came together to show unity and strength with our friends and colleagues at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Why? Because we care.

Yesterday, I joined hundreds of our students and community members for a unity photo in the Ross Winter Garden to show the world that Michigan Ross is a community that cares.

The photo was organized by a group of passionate Michigan Ross MBA students, and I thank them for taking the initiative.

After the photo, some 100 students and staff gathered for an hour of shared reflection about the events in Charlottesville, and what these tragic and horrifying events mean to us as people, leaders in business, education, and in our communities.

The best and brightest come to Michigan Ross to learn, and in the process, they inspire us to reach higher and be better. It is electrifying to get to know our students, who are not only business leaders of tomorrow, but also people who care deeply about the world beyond business.

The times we are living in today are not unprecedented. In world history, there have been numerous forces that sought to divide and ignite hate. In fact, the United States was founded in search for freedom from persecution. And our own history offers important lessons.

We know that good people must stand up and stand strong for justice, for humanity, and for the equitable treatment of all. We know there is no moral equivalence between promoting hate and defending our society from hate. This is not about politics. This is about values; what it means to be a citizen of the world, what it means to be human and what it means to be part of this University community. We should welcome civil discourse and political debate. We all win when the best ideas come from constructive debate, but we cannot debate if the origin is hate.

As Nelson Mandela said, people learn to hate. Fortunately, those same people can also be taught to love. We need leaders who stand strong and stand up for our community. We need leaders who care and who role model for the world how to love. We need you.

This week, I was inspired by Michigan Ross students who showed how people from 44 countries can come together to help aspiring entrepreneurs in Detroit and join hands in solidarity to show love for our friends and colleagues in Charlottesville.

We are Michigan Ross, and it is truly an honor to be a part of our community.

And to our friends and colleagues in Charlottesville at The Darden School, at The University of Virginia, and all those who stand up to oppose hate: We’re with you.

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