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Carlson School, Winter 2020

Business School Dean Apologizes Over Pandemic Remarks

The University of Minnesota’s business school dean has apologized after staff say she made insensitive remarks about the pandemic.

In a September Carlson Staff Consultative Committee meeting, Dean Sri Zaheer reportedly told staff members to “chill out and get over it” after some raised concerns about the surging delta variant, The Star Tribune reports. Zaheer also made comments about staff members’ ability to effectively work from home saying, “Some people are giving 200% while working remotely but some are not.”

The Carlson Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion released a statement saying it was “deeply distressed” by Zaheer’s remarks.

“Minimizing the concerns and efforts of staff during an incredibly difficult time is contrary to a culture of dignity and inclusion that the Carlson School has proclaimed as a key goal,” the advisory committee wrote.


Zaheer apologized in an email to the committee on October 18 stating:

“I failed to think about my words and the impact they would have, in my attempt to maintain a conversation,” she wrote. “I trust the CSOM staff and their supervisors to appropriately identify when and where work can get done in a way that enhances both individual and unit productivity and meets the needs of our staff, faculty, students and all our other constituents.”

In a statement last week, Zaheer reiterated her apology and highlighted how the “pandemic is becoming endemic.”

“Accepting that does not, in any way, diminish the seriousness of the virus and its variants,” Zaheer said. “I remain committed to providing a safe environment to learn, teach, work and research at the Carlson School, following University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

Sources: Star Tribune, The Minnesota Daily

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