SOM seeks to get more minorities

As the stock of the Yale School of Management continues to rise, the school is enrolling more women and underrepresented minorities, though officials and students said there is still work to be done.

This year, the SOM admitted a record-breaking number of women and underrepresented minorities. After reviewing 2,517 applications — a 20 percent increase from last year’s figure — the SOM offered admissions to a scant 15 percent of the pool. Of the accepted students, 63 percent — an all-time high — decided to matriculate this fall.

“I think it continues to be a reflection of the rising regard with which the school is held,” SOM Director of Admissions James Stevens said. “Yale has always been strong in the public, nonprofit sector, and for a while a lot of people thought that was all Yale did. But we’ve done a better job in recent years of building an institution that appeals to a much broader pool of candidates.”

And after Yale stepped up recruitment efforts, that “broader pool” now includes more women and underrepresented minorities. This year’s incoming class is 33 percent female, up from 27 percent the year before. And the percentage of underrepresented minorities — blacks and Hispanics — also jumped, increasing from 6 percent to 10 percent.

But a recent study released by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education found that the SOM ranked 20th among the nation’s top 25 business schools in terms of total black student enrollment. Harvard Business School topped the list last year, with blacks making up 6.2 percent of its student body. At Yale, less than 3 percent of the student body is black, and the SOM was one of only two of the ranked business schools to have no black faculty members.

“When students fail to see diversity in faculty, they get a very limited sense of the field and the academic opportunities available to them,” said Jill Gibson SOM ’03, a coordinator of the Black Business Alliance student group.

Stevens said that while the figure for minorities is low, the admissions office has made a concerted effort to increase diversity by instituting an office for minority and student affairs.

“Historically, we haven’t had such a great record with minorities,” Stevens said. “We’ve tried a number of different things and we’ve had lots of things we wanted to do, but we didn’t have anyone to execute the plans.”

Esmeralda Cardenal Teran now serves as the associate director of minority and student affairs, and Hispanic MBA Advisory Council leader Anthony Corridore SOM ’03 said there has been a noticeable upswing in minority recruitment efforts in the past two years. But Corridore said the SOM’s initiatives have not been as successful as he had hoped.

“I think Yale does all the right things,” Corridore said. “But unfortunately, we weren’t able to attract that many candidates, and I think it was just a function of being overpowered by the top five MBA programs. It was a really incredible effort, but I think it’s just a matter of us moving up in the polls and offering more scholarships.”

Before this year there were no scholarships specifically for underrepresented minorities; this year the SOM offered two full scholarships.

The SOM has had a more successful history in recruiting women, and The Wall Street Journal’s guide to business programs recently ranked the SOM the nation’s fourth-best business program for women.

But despite its past successes, the SOM has continued to engage in an aggressive recruiting strategy for women. Last fall, the SOM hosted its first ever women’s summit at the Yale Club of New York City. Featuring speakers such as PepsiCo, Inc., president and current Yale Corporation member Indra Nooyi SOM ’80, the meeting attracted prospective female applicants from across the nation. The SOM followed up with a networking reception at the club in the spring.

“The events in New York were a great opportunity for women to learn about what the School of Management has to offer and where a career in business can take them,” said Sonal Patel SOM ’03, a leader of the student group Women in Management. “I’m pretty happy with where we are now, but there’s definitely more work that we can do.”

SOM Deputy Dean Stan Garstka said the increased percentages of women and underrepresented minorities make the SOM more like the business world that students will encounter after graduation.

“Having more minorities and women makes it more representative of the real world,” Garstka said. “It’s what business is today. It’s what management is today.”

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