The flags representing the nationalities of current UNC Kenan-Flagler students have greeted everyone entering the McColl Building for many years.
But there was another flag that Graeme Strickland (BSBA ’20) wanted to see displayed, too – the LGBTQ+ Pride flag.
Strickland joined the Undergraduate Business Program (UBP) board of diversity and inclusion his sophomore year, eager to work with chair Diamonde Henderson (BSBA ’19). During his junior year, he initiated the process that resulted in the LGBTQ+ Pride flag – along with a whole new group of flags – hanging at the School to better reflect the full diversity of the UNC Kenan-Flagler community.
Because Strickland and Henderson put into practice what they believe – the importance of community and teamwork at UNC Kenan-Flagler – they involved MBA and MAC students in the initiative, as well as faculty and staff. When they submitted their flag proposal to the School’s leadership, it was signed by Henderson; Strickland, co-president of Pride@KFBS; Reinaldo Caravellas (MBA ’19), president of the MBA Pride Club; and Aditya Royyuru (MAC ’19), co-chair of the Master of Accounting diversity and inclusion board.
The students received tremendous support from the School, particularly from faculty members Elizabeth Dickinson, Allison Schlobohm and Larry Chavis, and Anna Millar, assistant dean of the Undergraduate Business Program. They worked together to identify some of the affinity groups that members of the community identify with.
Now flags recognizing them hang in Loudermilk Lobby in front of Koury Auditorium:
“The collaboration and eagerness that went into the hanging of the flags speaks to our community; the continued effort towards inclusion and bold leadership is what allows our school to thrive – and this long-term outlook is what I believe will maintain our School’s reputation as a top business school,” says Strickland.
When Strickland wrote about the flags on LinkedIn, his post received more than 500 reactions and more than 45,000 views
“These flags are both tangible and symbolic recognition of our diverse community – the identities and perspectives that form our community and thereby make us better and stronger,” says Doug Shackelford (BSBA ’80), dean and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation. “The location is important because it is one of the first places new students in all of our programs convene, a central gathering place for students, faculty and staff, and our public face to visitors.”
“We are thankful for the leadership of our student organizers who initiated this project and to the faculty and staff who supported them,” says Shackelford.
The flags were dedicated in a special ceremony to celebrate inclusion on Oct. 24.
At the ceremony, Shackelford announced Sherry Wallace (MBA ’87) as the new executive director of engagement and inclusion for the School. Wallace is advising and collaborating with the dean and other leaders and key committees to develop strategies, processes, plans, curricula and support systems to attract, retain and promote diversity in the faculty, staff and students. “As a double Tar Heel and someone who has made significant contributions in our alumni and MBA admissions programs, Sherry is the ideal person to take on this important leadership role for UNC Kenan-Flagler,” Shackelford says.
Strickland is proud of the School’s direction. “The addition to the flag display reaffirms the values of our community and share these values with visitors and the rest of campus,” he says. “In doing so, we are sending a message that studying business isn’t just for one type of person, and adding to our School’s diversity allows us to include even more top talent and future leaders.”