Reform Smith Proposal

On September 8, 2020, the Dean and other senior leaders received the Reform Smith Proposal, prepared by a group of Smith Commerce students and alumni. You can read the full Proposal here (PDF).

On September 18, the Dean sent this detailed response to the group’s co-leads:

Again, thank you for sharing the Reform Smith Proposal, which I have had the opportunity to read in detail. It is clear that considerable effort and energy were invested by you and members of the team in producing this document which I have shared with the task force, its working groups and the executive director of the commerce program.

Reform Smith calls on the school to take urgent action. There can be no doubt about the sense of urgency at Smith for meaningfully advancing equity and diversity issues and we will continue to make public our approach and actions via regular communications to the Smith community and at

It’s encouraging to see the commonalities in breadth and scope of the key issues identified in your proposal and the efforts underway at Smith and, as appropriate, across the university. Being on the same page with respect to acknowledging that change must span multiple dimensions – from the in- class experience and course content, to training and hiring, to policies and processes bodes well for seeing results that are viewed positively by students, staff, faculty and administrators alike. While there may not always be agreement on the strategy and approach, it is important that different perspectives and viewpoints are shared and heard.

As noted in the report, the key issues vary in complexity as well as governance, oversight and existing agreements and as such, Smith’s EDII efforts must intersect with the broader university (e.g. the Task Force, Undergraduate Admission & Recruitment EDII Task Force, Sexual violence Task Force), the Smith community via the working groups and with program level efforts (e.g. Commerce EDII Committee). This approach keeps multiple stakeholders informed and ensures coordination and collaboration to maximize efficiency and productivity.

The Data & Dashboard project is essential to the EDII strategy (benchmarking, evaluation & assessment and accountability). The value of meaningful and valid KPIs cannot be understated; many are drawn from existing datasets and where needed, standardized approaches to acquiring relevant quantitative and/or qualitative data will be developed. We look forward to sharing preliminary reports through the EDII website.

The Reform proposal shares common ground with the ongoing work at Smith and at Queen’s; most importantly in the goal to better the Smith student experience through advancing EDII. While we can continue to work in parallel, it is my opinion that much more can be accomplished through broad-based collaboration. As I’ve said before, student participation is important. I welcome a conversation about how we can facilitate that in a way that serves our community best.

Brenda Brouwer, PhD
Dean, Smith School of Business