Although athletic director Bill Beekman says that Michigan State is facing “very serious budget constraints” due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university will be posting a new position of chief diversity officer in the coming weeks in response to the controversy surrounding George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police May 25.
“This position was one of five key priorities we identified in our strategic planning process last fall,” Beekman said Thursday during a conference call with reporters, according to mlive.com. “It may be the only new position we post this year, but it’s just simply too important to wait.”
Beekman said he will be creating work groups for “how we change for the better,” and they will include current and former Michigan State athletes, coaches and staffers. The university will also bring speakers and teachers to campus to educate the athletic department.
“Creating a culture isn’t a top-down thing, it isn’t a bottom-up thing,” Beekman said. “It’s a team effort and so we’ll do it as a team.”
Beekman also said he sent a letter on Monday to university athletes expressing his thoughts on the George Floyd situation.
“In that letter I expressed the many emotions I felt over the last week as sadness, shock, anger, outrage,” Beekman said during a videoconference with reporters on Thursday. “I especially wanted to make clear to our students that we in athletics are here to support them and hear them and that I personally am here to support them and hear them. That their views and ideas are important and we all grow when they share their thoughts and perspectives with our community. That our campus will be a safe place for them to continue to learn and grow and that diversity and inclusion aren’t things we do but who we are.”