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New Director of Diversity and Inclusion ‘Hits the Ground Running’

The Poole College of Management’s new director of diversity and inclusion – Tayah Lin Butler, MBA – has hit the ground running since joining the staff this fall.

The new position reflects the college’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion through both leadership and program development. Butler was delivering on both during the first full week of classes in September, when she developed and delivered a set of training sessions for about 50 student peer mentors and 50 professional mentors on topics related to diversity and inclusion.

The mentors are now working in pairs with first-year undergraduate students in Student Network Groups. Modeled after affinity groups found in corporate settings, the SNGs at Poole College break down the 1,000-plus new student population into smaller groups organized around various characteristics, such as first in family to go to college, active military or veterans, diversity by culture, race or gender identity, or faith and spirituality. The groups meeting a few times in the new students’ first semester, participating in cultural events or other activities that help them get acquainted with other students who are similar or different, depending on which SNG the student chose to join.

“I believe that business students have a disproportionate opportunity to solve challenges that communities face in the modern economy and it’s our role as a business college to equip those leaders with competence, fluency and comfort in inter-cultural work spaces. We need all faces at the table,” Butler said when asked about her new role at Poole College.

Butler brings to that role prior experience as an undergraduate advisor for pre-business and business students at the University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business. Soon after starting in there, she created the Connect Engage Opportunity Network (CEO Network) to help encourage the program’s underrepresented students stay on track toward graduation from the business program. The result: the business school’s retention rates rose from 30 to 85 percent among students who participated in the CEO Network.

Tamah Morant, associate dean for undergraduate programs, said the college’s leadership team upgraded a previous coordinator of diversity position to the current director of diversity and inclusion. The change reflects the college’s strong commitment to supporting an atmosphere that embraces all perspectives and encourages input from all backgrounds and experiences.

“Our goal is to develop business leaders who genuinely embrace diversity of thought and experience and to put those leaders in a position to share that perspective with the world,” said Annette L. Ranft, Poole College dean and Stephen P. Zelnak, Jr., Chair. “We are pleased to welcome Tayah to our team and value her demonstrated experience and initiative in helping develop future business leaders and role models.”

Butler received her bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish and master’s in Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

In a recent interview with Poole College communications, Butler shared the insights about what she brings to her new role.

What drew you to this position?

Realizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, I wanted to grow from my experience at the University of Oregon. I have a passion for civil rights, social action and education, and understand that student success is not just about programming. I look forward to working with bold leaders and creating a clear vision of equity and inclusiveness in the college.

How will you be bringing your message to Poole College students?

I will continue to work with leaders of student organizations, as my predecessor did, to bring inclusive work practices to their programming. I will also help undergraduate programs look at the metrics of their majors, persistence rates and graduation rates. I aim to help every unit in undergraduate programs identify an inclusion initiative which supports the vision that Dr. Morant and Dean Annette L. Ranft have for Poole.

What do you think about Raleigh?

While Raleigh is different than Eugene, the transition is going relatively smooth thanks to having family nearby.