Marriott School Makes Push for Diversity: Long-Term Initiative to Increase Minority Opportunities

Brigham Young University's Marriott School has launched a major initiative to improve minority representation in the school's graduate programs. The diversity initiative is designed to recruit a more diverse student body and faculty; provide students and faculty with cultural awareness and sensitivity to diversity issues; and improve the school's internal climate to be more supportive of female, international, and minority students and faculty.

"We believe increasing the diversity of our student body and faculty will not only open doors for qualified minorities but also enable us to more effectively prepare future leaders," says Ned C. Hill, dean of the Marriott School. "Our goal is to more closely reflect the diverse membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The school's initiative focuses on underrepresented minorities, defined as Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, African Americans and women.Some of the minority recruiting activities include working with national and international BYU Management Society chapters, local Church leaders, institute leaders and alumni to network and find prospective minority students from all over the world.

To cultivate future faculty, the school is looking not only at minorities in current graduate programs around the country but also at students beginning masters programs at the Marriott School. A program is now in place to mentor and provide support for future Ph.D. candidates.

Cultural awareness and sensitivity to diversity issues is being nurtured by developing faculty awareness and skills, screening communication materials for bias and supporting students through extracurricular clubs and mentoring. All faculty are requested to participate in at least one school-sponsored diversity retreat. The retreats include group discussions to increase awareness and instruction on how to create a supportive climate in the classroom and in extra-curricular interactions with students.

"The retreat raised a lot of issues people might not normally think about," said Joan Young, director of the undergraduate management program. "The cases we went through were taken from experiences at the school and were very relevant. I feel better prepared to discuss these issues."

Other student recruiting efforts include question and answer sessions, cottage meetings and firesides in major metropolitan areas. The school also has an early identification project to assist minority candidates in obtaining quality work experience and preparing for graduate program applications.

"It's been quite exciting to watch," said Mark Dickson, assistant treasurer TAG Group USA, Inc. and Washington, D.C. Management Society chapter president. "There are many candidates who hadn't considered the Marriott School because they felt they didn't have the resources. Now, there are opportunities opening up to them."

Initiative partners like Ford Motor Company, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood Video, Ernst & Young, Union Pacific and PricewaterhouseCoopers provide financial support and offer work opportunities so students can acquire the experience needed for admittance.

"The prospective students we're working with range from recent high school graduates to professionals with a few years of work experience and varying degrees of preparation," says Louise Illes, director of service learning and diversity. "This project is as important for the majority as it is for the minority students we're increasing our efforts to attract. We measure diversity not only in representation but also by inclusion and participation."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938 or 787-9989
Writer: Christopher Ward (801) 422-1512