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Sloan School receives award for promoting diversity

The Boston chapter of the National Black MBA Association has honored the Sloan School of Management with its Leadership Award, in recognition of the School's efforts to promote diversity and expand opportunities for minority students.

"We don't give the Leadership Award every year, so it means a lot," said Barbara Thomas, Boston chapter president.

Since 1993, when Professor Glen Urban became Sloan's dean, the Sloan School has launched several initiatives designed to foster diversity, both at the School and in the larger business community. Guided by its Diversity Committee, Sloan established the Minority Business Leaders project, which seeks to attract minority students and help them move into positions of leadership in industry, academia and the public sector.

It has also created several programs that provide loans and research grants to minority students, hired a director of minority recruitment and retention, stepped up recruitment of minority faculty, and formed partnerships with historically black universities and a number of nonacademic organizations that share its commitment to inclusive education.

One facet of Sloan's diversity efforts is the forging of a strong partnership with the National Black MBA Association. "The Sloan School has been very responsive and very helpful to us," said Thomas. "They've opened their doors to us in many ways. We've often called on them for support, and they've never said no to us."

The partnership has been fruitful for Sloan as well, according to Carmon Cunningham, the School's director of alumni/ae relations, who accepted the Leadership Award last month in a ceremony at the offices of the Boston Globe. "We gain visibility within a highly respected organization in the black community," he said. "And because the association has a very active local chapter here, it helps create an environment for African-Americans at Sloan to broaden their exposure to the external minority business community." The partnership has aided recruitment efforts, he said, and has provided Sloan's minority students with valuable contacts, internships and job opportunities.

Moreover, Mr. Cunningham said, the diversity effort that spawned this and other alliances has benefited the Sloan School as a whole. "Today, the ability to effectively manage diverse peoples is extremely important. If we are to teach students the skills they need, we need an environment that is reflective of the external community in which they're going to work."

The National Black MBA Association consists of more than 4,000 MBAs and management students in 32 chapters. Several dozen students from Sloan will attend the organization's annual conference in Dallas in September.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 13, 1997.

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