USC Music School Dean Jason King on the Importance of DEI

Exploring the Continued Relevance of DEI in Education

by Nouman Rasool
USC Music School Dean Jason King on the Importance of DEI
© jasonkingsays/Twitter

In recent developments, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have gained paramount importance in professional environments, including corporate sectors and academic institutions. A 2023 report by McKinsey highlights the surge in DEI-related investments, with companies earmarking a whopping $7.5 billion in 2020, a figure projected to double by 2026.

This growing trend is evidenced by the establishment of dedicated DEI departments, along with the hiring of specialized officers and consultants. At the forefront of these initiatives is the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where Dean Jason King stands as a beacon of progress.

King’s leadership at USC symbolizes the university's commitment to DEI, reflecting a broader, more inclusive approach in higher education hiring practices. “My role at USC is more than a title; it’s a testament to the progressive steps being taken in diversifying academic leadership,” King asserts.

His presence embodies the significant strides USC has made in building a robust DEI structure. During our conversation, King emphasized the ongoing relevance of DEI in academia and beyond. Despite the considerable investments and efforts, he believes there is still substantial work ahead.

“Diversity in educational spaces is critical for fostering empowerment and inclusivity,” he remarked, stressing the importance of representation across all levels of education.

Allyship and Progress

King also discussed the concept of allyship, which gained prominence in the summer of 2020.

He notes a decline in active support since then but remains optimistic about ongoing progress. “Allyship is multifaceted and can manifest in various forms, from initiating race conversations to advocating for inclusion in workplaces,” King explained.

While some educational institutions have recently cut back on DEI courses, leaders like King are resolute in maintaining the visibility and voices of minorities within academia. He posits that diverse hiring practices are not just symbolic but pivotal in transforming historically exclusive institutions into inclusive environments.

King's insights serve as a reminder of the critical need for sustained DEI efforts. As companies and educational institutions continue to evolve, the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion remain essential pillars in shaping a more inclusive and representative society.