The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor | Why Gies College of Business engages with the world

By Jeffrey R. Brown

At the start of each year, I share with new students Gies College of Business’ vision to lead the world in innovation and access to life-changing business education. I stress that one of our core values is that diversity, inclusion and respect for individuals makes us stronger.

Our students come from many nations, multiple faiths, diverse families and varied political ideologies. I explain that among our jobs as educators is to make them intellectually uncomfortable while maintaining respect for each individual. It is these principles that lead our college to engage with many countries, including Israel, even while others on campus promote a movement that calls for boycotts and divestment.

I recently participated in an official trip to Israel during which our University signed Memoranda of Understanding with leading Israeli universities to encourage institutional collaborations.

Israel, often called the “Startup Nation” because of its success with innovation and entrepreneurship, is a natural partner for our innovative University.

Forty James Scholars from Gies College of Business will spend spring break traveling to Israel. Our faculty present research at Israeli universities, and we welcome Israeli scholars to share their research with us. Such engagement is in the best interest of our students, faculty and staff.

I respect those who are concerned about the longstanding political, military, religious and cultural conflicts in the region. As a University that values free expression, we should welcome debate over these issues.

But we should not deny our community the opportunity to learn about these issues firsthand by visiting Israel, by engaging with companies that do business with or in Israel or by welcoming Israeli guests to our campus.

Whatever the stated motivation for a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, the effect of it — limiting opportunities for engagement — is, in my view, antithetical to the core values of a great public university.

Jeffrey R. Brown,

Dean, Gies College of Business

[email protected]

Leave a Comment