This spring will be the first full semester on the job for the School of Management’s first director of community and inclusion, Tiffany Gooden.
Despite being hired in October 2014, Gooden was only introduced to the student body at large in a school-wide email last week.
Gooden, who comes to SOM from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said her new position encompasses working with current students to find ways to talk about issues of diversity on campus and alumnae to continue their connections with SOM. Since she joined the SOM, she has been working with student affinity groups, clubs and organizations at the school, such as SOM’s Women in Management group and Community and Inclusion Council. Gooden also works in admissions to help the SOM with its selection process for students from historically underrepresented populations.
As part of this role, Gooden is also expected to work with the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a group of business schools of which Yale is a member, that works to increase access to business leadership for students of Native American, Black or Latino backgrounds. SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain said this position will work to encompass all of the diversity initiatives the SOM has been working on.
“We had a position before that was focused more on admissions and a little bit with student experience,” Jain said. “We wanted to expand the scope of the position and encompass into the role all of the activities that attract a diverse group of students, create an educational experience that is inclusive and continue a relationship with alumnae,” Jain said.
Tyler Godoff SOM ’16 has worked with Gooden as a member of the SOM’s Community and Inclusion Council, a task force consisting of students, professors and administrators and dedicated to issues of diversity and inclusion. He said from his experience with her so far, he is encouraged by the direction in which Gooden will lead the SOM.
“I’ve been very impressed with her,” Godoff said. “She’s very qualified, she has lots of experience in business schools and she brings a lot of energy. She seems to really get how a committee can be effective in a business school setting.”
Leading a business school committee is different from chairing an undergraduate committee, Godoff added, because students are only at the school for two years, giving administrators less time to make a lasting impact on students.
D’Andre Carr SOM ’16, a CIC member, has worked with Gooden on developing a dialogue at SOM about the recent Michael Brown and Eric Garner verdicts.
Carr said he thinks the greatest challenge Gooden will face in her role is creating a comfortable setting in which to have conversations about race, equity and diversity within a predominantly white student body.
SOM Associate Dean David Bach said Gooden’s role will only grow in importance as SOM continues to become more globally oriented, since her purview is all areas of diversity, including nationality.
“As we try to become the most global U.S. business school, we want to make sure we’re not just a collection of people from different parts of the world [but that] we’re also curious about one another’s backgrounds and learn about one another’s backgrounds,” Bach said
Gooden, meanwhile, said the greatest challenge she is expecting in her new position is that people often expect instant cultural change, which in fact tends to take a longer time. Before change comes to the SOM, Gooden said she will first need to get a feel for the SOM community’s culture.
“[It is] challenging work of getting us to move forward [and think] about the makeup of the class, activities we participate in every day, conversations and how we maintain and create spaces that make it a really inclusive place,” Gooden said. “I’m excited about that but I think it will be challenging.”
Katy Mixter SOM ’17, a CIC member, said Gooden will ideally guide students in figuring out how they will both establish an inclusive community on campus and set an example of inclusivity in the business school world.
Similarly, Michael Buzzard SOM ’15, another CIC member, said Gooden and the CIC are both exploring what the best applications of Gooden’s time will be in her new role in order to encourage a diverse and welcoming SOM community.