Last month, the USC Board of Trustees voted in support of Interim President Wanda Austin’s termination of Marshall School of Business Dean James Ellis, prompting several University alumni and the USC Marshall Board of Leaders to pen strongly-worded letters criticizing Austin’s decision. These pieces are the latest additions to an outpouring of public disapproval from hundreds of Marshall community members since Ellis announced his removal in December. In their rush to defend Ellis, however, his supporters risked overlooking a key issue: whether or not his actions perpetuated a culture of exclusion at the Marshall school. The vast majority of the letters and editorials published on the “I Stand With Dean Ellis” website focus on Austin’s lack of transparency and the strength of Ellis’ character. These are reasonable emphases, as justifying the removal of a high-ranking University official requires indisputable evidence of wrongdoing. Their consideration of Ellis’ contributions to diversity and inclusion at Marshall, however, remains surface-level, with only a handful of letters even mentioning them. Within these few, concrete evidence for Ellis’ work centered on diversity and inclusion efforts were lacking. This omission of discernible evidence fails to address the official rationale behind Ellis’ removal, which is based on his… Read full this story
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