Summer 2022 Heller Magazine: Letter from the Interim Dean

June 23, 2022

Dear Heller community,

In my time as the associate dean for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity and director of the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity, we at Heller have worked to develop a better sense of accountability, transparency and communication. As I step into the role of interim dean on July 1, I am eager to continue guiding our community along the pathways begun under Dean Weil’s leadership.

Through our strategic vision, we have strived to communicate what is working well and where there are opportunities for improvement. We are constantly aiming to advance the quality of the Heller experience to meet the needs of an evolving workforce, and this work is informed by tools such as climate surveys, faculty activity reports, community input and performance reviews. In 2017, the newly founded Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EID) office introduced the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) metrics as a framework that Heller now uses to track and benchmark progress.

These data show that the number of students applying to Heller is growing, and that our classes are increasingly diverse, international and interested in dual degrees — an indication that our world is more dynamic and interdisciplinary than ever before. As we look to our future, we need to create a workforce that has an exceptional ability to mold and build policy for a world that is more connected, multicultural, and prepared to work against racism/ethnocentrism and discrimination as well as existential threats such as climate change, and health, wealth and educational inequities. Our students already embrace the idea of knowledge advancing social justice. I would like to build off that idea and say that, along with knowledge, we need empathy to learn from an array of people from all backgrounds and to advance dialogue across differences. These are ideas I have learned from our brilliant Heller students.

At Heller, we understand how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world since our strategic vision was first established. While our environment is continuously transformed by technological advances, we must also recognize what has been lost in online approaches to communication. In-person learning allows students to connect and process information on a deeper level and prepares them to be more effective at their jobs. I aim to reincorporate these elements as we adapt to the new normal.

I look forward to continuing to partner with our students, faculty, researchers and staff as we work to enhance the academic experience and quality of research at Heller.


Maria Madison, ScD

Interim Dean