Event aims to give minorities a better shot at business school

Students at New York University graduation
New York University graduates celebrate during commencement ceremonies in Washington Square Park May 10, 2007 in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A gathering at the University of Minnesota this week brings together students and representatives of business schools from around the country to address a common problem: the lack of diversity among students working toward master's degrees in business administration.

Bill Woodson, assistant dean of the St. Thomas Opus College of Business, says that companies want applicants of color and that it's been challenging to pull them from a traditional pool of graduates. While many programs offer one or two scholarships, he said, each class may include only one person of color. St. Thomas offers 15 scholarships for underrepresented minorities.

The National Diversity MBA Summit intends to connect applicants with leading MBA programs and offer counseling on the application process. Shawn O'Connor, founder of the summit and of StratusPrep and The Stratus Foundation, says that "As a member of an underrepresented population who attended business school less than a decade ago, I am sharply aware of the need for an event of this type."

LEARN MORE ABOUT DIVERSITY IN BUSINESS SCHOOLS:

University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business Announces MBA Scholarship Program for Minorities
The University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business announced a new scholarship program targeting under-represented minorities. A total of 15 full-tuition scholarships — valued at $56,000 each at current tuition rates — will be awarded to improve access to the Full-time UST MBA Program and ensure a diverse learning environment for students. The new program, open to U.S. citizens and permanent U.S. residents who enroll in the two-year master's degree beginning in Fall 2012, places an MBA education within financial reach for a broader segment of future leaders. (Business Wire)

What do leaders need to understand about diversity?
The way I look at it is, if our customer base is diverse, we need diversity in our workforce so that we can learn from our own diversity to make ourselves more effective at meeting the needs of our clients. I, as an African-American male, will never be Asian, but if I'm in a diverse work group where we can actually talk about cultural differences, I can become much more effective relating to that Asian client. But if we're homogeneous inside, then we're likely to make all kinds of mistakes in the way we think about diversity. (Yale Insights)

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