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New Delta region collaborative seeks to form DEI platform to assist underrepresented academics and business professionals

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By The Arkansas Delta Informer Staff — A newly formed Delta region based in Jackson, Miss., is seeking to change the face of the business world through a new regional new diversity and equity platform founded by top business leaders and academics.

The new board of directors for the Business School Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Collaborative brings together eight business schools and one industry leader that recognizes DEI’s importance in higher education and the business world. The board is now seeking more members to serve as a robust resource for academics and businesspeople to increase opportunities for historically underrepresented groups and make an even bigger impact.

“Twenty-seven years ago, when we founded The PhD Project, there was nothing like this,” said board member Bernard J. Milano, the retired former president at KPMG Foundation and The PhD Project. “I’m thrilled to see business schools stepping up like this.”

The seed for the DEI Collaborative was planted in 2016 when a group of business school administrators, faculty and staff first came together to create the SEC Business School Diversity Conference. With support from industry leaders in the DEI space such as The PhD ProjectEY, and Sage Publishing, the group has grown and is expanding its reach across the United States. It hopes to contribute to a more consistent approach to DEI as a way to ensure a thriving culture that prepares future business leaders for the modern workplace.

“We realized pretty quickly that by coming together, we were able to make a greater impact at our own schools,” said board member Angela Guidry of Louisiana State University. “Everyone continued to network throughout the year and began sharing ideas and building off each other’s energy. We saw that we needed to develop a more permanent resource.”

The DEI Collaborative held its first official conference as the new organization in March, hosted by the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. More than 80 attendees gathered in person and virtually to network and grow their skills around the theme, “Building World-Class Diversity Practitioners.” Representatives from 33 schools and 12 businesses and nonprofits attended sessions over three days.

“I learned more in those few days than I could ever pick up on my own,” added board member Mike Breazeale of Mississippi State University.

Planning is underway for next year’s conference, which will take place March 8-10, 2023, and will be hosted by the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Membership is open to all business schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The initial board of directors and members of the DEI Collaborative is made up of the following: 

  • Chair, Danielle Beu Ammeter, University of Mississippi 
  • Vice-Chair, Angela R. Guidry, Louisiana State University 
  • Treasurer, Clarence Vaughn, University of Tennessee 
  • Secretary, Scott Kelley, University of Kentucky
  • Marketing / Social Media Chair, Mike Breazeale, Mississippi State University
  • Conference Co-Ambassador, Barbara Lofton, University of Arkansas
  • Conference Co-Ambassador, Sonja Wiley, Louisiana State University 
  • Bernard J. Milano, retired former president at KPMG Foundation and The PhD Project
  • Ann Tasby, Texas Christian University
  • Robert Thomas, University of Florida

Founded on June 1, 2022, the Business School Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Collaborative advances diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in higher education through hosting conferences to discuss best practices and programs, granting awards, and serving as a resource for educators and businesspeople who are interested in increasing the opportunities for historically underrepresented groups.

For more information about membership, conferences or participating in any way, visit https://www.businessschooldeicollab.com/.

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