Students of color are more successful in college if they have at least one professor who looks like them, professors at the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business say.
“We know from research that people of color drop out of college at numbers twice as high as the general population. Many say they feel out of place,” said Marketing Professor José Rosa, the John and Deborah Ganoe Faculty Fellow. “Many feel they don’t belong.”
Rosa and other members of the Ivy faculty are working to change that.
After discussing it with Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding, a decision was made three years ago to increase the college’s existing involvement with the PhD Project (The Project), a national organization whose goal is to diversify the corporate boardroom by diversifying the role models in front of the classroom.
The Project, celebrating its 25-year anniversary, started as an all-expenses-paid national conference for prospective PhD students. It was created by the KPMG Foundation, which supports quality education in accounting.
To date, the foundation has invested $19 million. Their mission is to increase workplace diversity by increasing the diversity of business school faculty who educate, encourage, mentor, support, and enhance the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders.
Their effort is working.
Since it began, The Project has increased the number of minority business professors across the United States by five times.
It’s also working at the Ivy College of Business. Today, there are more minority business faculty and minority doctoral students at the Ivy College of Business
than any other business school in Iowa, according to The Project records.
The number of minority faculty at the Ivy College of Business has increased 110 percent, according to college records.
That was no accident.
“Since 2012, we have strategically increased the number of minority faculty at the Ivy College of Business. We’ve done that by making it a priority at the college,” said Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding. “It’s important to note that we focus on having high quality, diverse faculty candidates in our hiring pools. We hire the best possible talent, always.”
In 2011, the college became a member of the PhD Project. The cost is $5,000 annually and include these benefits:
- Registration and exhibit space at the annual conference to recruit minority
- Unlimited postings on the PhD Project job board, plus direct access to a network of 1,500+ minority faculty and doctoral students and more than 7,000 past
conference attendees for faculty and administrative recruiting
- Opportunity to attend five discipline-
specific conferences for current doctoral students and faculty for networking and recruiting
The success of The Project at the Ivy College of Business is a result of the passion and dedication from the college leaders and the PhD Project members.
“Two faculty members deserve special credit,” Spalding said. “Samantha Cross, associate professor of marketing, and José Rosa. They are continually involved and active with The Project and their PhD students. That has made all the difference for us.”
President of the PhD Project Association and the KPMG Foundation, Bernard J. Milano is impressed with the progress and dedication from the Ivy College of Business.
“Iowa State is above average in their work to increase diversity among business faculty,” Milano said. “There are only 1,300 minority business professors in the country; there are over 1,500 colleges and universities that award business degrees, so the average is under one minority professor per school; Iowa State has 10 members. So, you have one of the largest populations that exist.”
As Milano explained it, that is a community.
“When a PhD student has the opportunity to join a high quality institution that also has an established community of diverse faculty, and they also have the opportunity at another university that does not have that community, they notice. When there is a built-in community, faculty know they can connect with people who look like them,
and they can get honest, unvarnished commentary about the university’s support of culture and diversity. They also search for communities that support diversity, outside of their campus. They look at the full package,” Milano said.
“Samantha and José are still very active with the current PhD students in the program. They develop and continue relationships. So, it’s natural for them to connect with Samantha and José to ask questions, collaborate on research, and so on,” Milano said. “They are developing relationships. They work at it because it’s important, but they also really love it.”
Many universities join The Project but do nothing else. Faculty and doctoral program representatives from the Ivy College of Business routinely attend The Project’s annual conference and also utilize the PhD Project network to recruit both faculty and doctoral students throughout the year.
Milano said having a college committed to diversity is a benefit to everyone, including today’s students.
“Current students should care about this because the world is diverse. If the way you are produced at a university is not diverse, you are getting shortchanged. If you haven’t interacted with people who are different than you, you will be shocked in the real world,” he said. “There’s plenty of research out there that shows students of color flock to professors of color,” Milano said.
Professor of Information Systems and Director of the Ivy College of Business PhD program Joey George said he is proud of the work The Project has done.
“They are bringing members of underrepresented groups into the business school professorial ranks. It is so important that all business students are taught by faculty who look like them,” said George, who is associate dean for research and the John D. DeVries Endowed Chair in Business.
The work at the Ivy College of Business must also continue to improve.
“We have made great strides in our efforts to increase diversity among business faculty,” Spalding said. “We are not stopping here, though. We will continue to seek a diverse mix of faculty so our business students have the most inclusive education possible.”
Ivy faculty impress the importance of the PhD Project
José Rosa, professor of marketing, recipient of the American Marketing Association Williams-Qualls-Spratlen Multicultural Mentoring Award, and a member of the PhD Project Hall of Fame
“The Ivy College of Business has accrued an impressive record in recruiting and retaining PhD Project-connected faculty, and it likely stands out as one of the most successful Carnegie Research institutions in this regard, which is a very high classification. By supporting the PhD Project, we show everyone that we support diversity and inclusion.”
Rosa is also the inaugural Faculty Fellow in the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at Iowa State University. In his three-year administrative term, he will advance university efforts toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is being done through a series of innovative projects that contribute to the experienced values of the Iowa State community.
Samantha Cross, associate professor of marketing, and the first PhD Project member to join the faculty at the Ivy College of Business
“It’s important for our alumni and friends of the college to know about the efforts we are making in diversity and inclusion, and to know about our work with the PhD Project. If you want to diversify business, it needs to start withthe student body. If you have diversity in the front of the classroom, it helps student perceptions about what people can and cannot do.” When Cross was hired at Iowa State University in 2009, she
was the only PhD Project member in the Ivy College of Business.
Learn more about the PhD Project
The PhD Project hosts an invitation-only conference each November for minority professionals considering doctoral studies. The conference takes place in Chicago. The application deadline is September 30. The PhD Project covers all travel, hotel, and conference expenses for those who are invited to attend. There is a nominal $200 registration fee for those who are not current students.
Visit www.phdproject.org for more information and to access an application.