Round 2 Full-Time MBA application deadline is January 5.  Round 2 MAcc application deadline is January 7. GMAT waivers available for select programs.

Programs

Stepping Up

Interested in learning more about how Rice Business is stepping up to promote diversity, equity and inclusion? Read the full version of this Admit It: Rice Business MBA Blog post: Making Change. 
 

Read More

Americans have faced historic challenges in the last two years: the pandemic, work and school life conducted on screens, troubling social divisions. These tough experiences have forged a new urgency for creating work cultures that are diverse, equitable and inclusive.  

Rice Business is facing this challenge head-on. Most visibly, it expanded the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), including new dean-level leadership from Constance Elise Porter, Senior Associate Dean of DEI and Associate Clinical Professor of Marketing. But it falls to the whole school community – not just the DEI office – to build what Porter calls “positive, productive collaboration among all members of a diverse Rice Business community.

“When we talk about culture and belonging and respect for each other, it sounds simple, but it isn’t,” Dean Peter Rodriguez says. “Advancing on the DEI journey requires the involvement of our entire community, starting with opening our hearts and minds, making a commitment to institutional introspection and communicating constantly.”

A Practical As Well As An Ethical Matter                                                                  

The first step is to convey exactly what Rice Business means by DEI. Diversity, Porter explains, means the variety of backgrounds, values and perspectives that spring from different cultures and circumstances. Equity means fair access to resources and opportunities. And inclusion means a sense of belonging.

At Rice Business, pursuing these goals is a practical as well as an ethical matter. That’s because Rice Business equips its students – all students – for success in a modern and diverse professional world. For this post, we’ve asked the school’s leadership to outline some of the measures they believe will help infuse the school community with DEI skills and values.

My view is this is not a moment. It’s a movement that’s not going to go away. The office’s mission is to support all members of the Rice Business community."

Constance Elise Porter

Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Associate Clinical Professor of Marketing

Constance Elise Porter

Stepping Up For DEI at Rice

After the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and a tide of other high-profile attacks against Black Americans, Rice Business formed a task force on racial equity and social justice.

Made up of faculty, staff, students and alumni, the task force called for 33 measures in five categories, including curriculum,

school culture, student life, faculty and staff development. In response, Rice Business expanded the original DEI office founded six years ago by Lina Y. Bell, Director of DEI, adding dean-level leadership by Porter and hiring a new employee.

“My view is this is not a moment. It’s a movement that’s not going to go away,” Porter says. Porter stresses that the office’s mission is to “support all members of the Rice Business community: not just Black, Latinx and Indigenous Students – and not just students but faculty, staff and alumni.” That means diversity in its broadest sense, including LGBT+, historically underrepresented minorities, women, veterans and students with physical challenges.

Admissions – The Starting Gate

Rice Business has long nurtured diversity: last year it ranked #1 in the top 25 business schools for Full-Time MBA programs with the highest percentage of minority students. One of the first steps to schoolwide DEI competence is further enriching Rice Business’ longtime care in admissions, says Janice Kennedy, Executive Director of Recruiting and Admissions.

Critical to this project: working closely with respected national nonprofits focused on increasing the representation of marginalized groups in business schools and the corporate world. As just one example, joining the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management has influenced Rice Business dramatically, says George Andrews, Associate Dean of Degree Programs.

Founded to increase the presence of underrepresented minority groups in business, the Consortium offers professional and academic resources to support strong student applications and successful academic experiences. It’s also a powerful career tool. In recent years, company recruiters have begun recruiting Consortium students even before they start their MBA programs.

“Joining Consortium in 2017 has been huge for Rice Business,” Andrews says, noting that the group rarely admits new business schools. Looking ahead, Andrews adds, raising the school’s profile within Consortium and similar external partnerships is a major goal. “I think we need to do an even better job attracting and supporting the best talent,” he says.

Both Kennedy and Andrews add that they want to rigorously measure Rice Business DEI outcomes. One way to do this schoolwide, Andrews says, would be to identify three to five DEI pillars, or objectives, whose success could be quantified, from admissions to the student experience and hiring. 

Partnerships For Career-Long Support

 In addition to partnering with Consortium, Rice Business works closely with the Forte Foundation, which raises the representation of women in business schools, and Prospanica, which has advocated for Hispanic business professionals for 30 years, linking them to programs, experts and colleagues.

Rice Business also works closely with Reaching Out, the international association for LGBT+ MBA students and alumni. Its annual ROMBA conference is the largest gathering of its kind in the world. 

 “Rice Business partnerships with these groups are critical,” says Jessica Krom, Associate Director of Recruiting and Admissions. “I like to say that these groups open the door for historically marginalized populations. It’s the responsibility of Rice Business – with its training and curriculum – to make sure the door is leading somewhere.”

At the individual level, the Student Program Office (SPO) supports an impressive set of affinity clubs – open to student allies from any background. A sampling of these clubs includes the Asian Business Student Association, Black Business Student Association, Latin Business Student Association, Out & Allied, Rice Business Women's Organization, Men as Allies, Rice Business Indo-American Association and Veterans in Business Association.

Career Building Blocks

Ultimately, of course, Rice Business is about advancing careers and providing training and networks that allow graduates to chart their own courses over their lifetimes. The school is committed to offering these skills to students regardless of background, says Phil Heavilin, Executive Director of the Career Development Office. To that end, the CDO offers a packed calendar of activities tailored for a diverse student body.

The CDO partners with companies interested in showcasing their commitment to welcoming, inclusive environments. The office also works with the DEI office to provide financial support for students attending conferences and career expos at National Black MBAReaching Out MBA (LGBT+ community), MBAVeterans, and Prospanica (Latinx) – where Rice Business recently won a second Brillante award for educational excellence.

     Finally, Rice Business highly values its international students, Heavilin notes. Partnering with the Communication faculty, the CDO offers individual, virtual English Language coaching through B-Speak! as well as Interstride, an online career development and recruiting platform for international students.

It’s important for our students to see themselves reflected at the front of the classroom. And it’s important for our students to learn the frameworks for understanding DEI in the workplace."

Barbara Bennett Ostdiek

Senior Associate Dean of Degree Programs, Professor of Finance and Statistics

Barbara Ostdiek

Faculty and Curriculum: The Heart of Business School

In the long term, one of the most consequential measures will be a more diverse faculty and richer curriculum, says Senior Associate Dean Barbara Bennett Ostdiek. Building a more diverse faculty has been prioritized by Rice Provost Reginald DesRoches – a signal of its importance to the university overall.

“It’s important for our students to see themselves reflected at the front of the classroom,” Bennett Ostdiek says. “And it’s important for our students to learn the frameworks for understanding DEI in the workplace – understanding the benefits and understanding the challenges. To foster DEI outside the classroom, Bennett Ostdiek notes, the school is emphasizing initiatives that bring together students, faculty, alumni and potential employers.

For Victoria Hills, Full-Time MBA ‘22 and the president of the Black Business Student Association, these instructional changes are key. Adding a dean-level leader to the DEI office is a good first step, as is prioritizing hiring more diverse faculty, Hills says. “Having someone who looks like you, understands what your experiences are like and can speak to those issues is essential,” says Hills, an engineer who chose Rice Business to build on her expertise bringing sophisticated DEI measures to corporations.

This is where you are creating your new CEOs and CFOs. Business schools are where change is made."

Victoria Hills

President of the Black Business Student Association, FTMBA '22

Victoria Hills

Business Schools: A Pivotal Force

Transparency and equal opportunity also need to be part of the DEI plan at Rice Business, Hills adds. For Black business students throughout the country, Hills and others say, it is common to be insulted by other students, challenged about why they were admitted or asked how their schooling is funded.

To address these issues proactively, Rice Business hosts the Diversity Preview Weekend, its flagship recruiting event. It includes the widely attended Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference, as well as alumni panels, workshops, sessions with the Career Development Office and Recruiting and Admissions teams and social events with current students, staff, faculty and alumni. Participants who apply for this year’s Full-Time MBA program are guaranteed an interview invitation.

The chance to be an incubator for social justice in the workplace puts Rice Business in a powerful position, says alumna and task force member Patra Brannon-Isaac. “I wholeheartedly believe Rice Business has a major opportunity to establish itself as a leader in DEI among top business schools around the country,” says Brannon-Isaac, who is director of education and community projects for the Kinder Foundation and a 2011 graduate of the Full-Time MBA program.          

Rice Business has been increasingly bold at stepping up to this challenge, Hills says. “In our DEI class with Professor Mikki Hebl, we talk about some very touchy topics,” she says. “But this is where you are creating your new CEOs and CFOs. Business schools are where change is made.”

Interested in learning more about how Rice Business is stepping up to promote diversity, equity and inclusion? Read the full version of this Admit It: Rice Business MBA Blog post: Making Change. 
 

Read More

_________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in learning more about the MBA programs offered by Rice Business? Send us an email at ricemba@rice.edu.

You May Also Like

Rice is Houston's Choice for the MBA
Programs

Interested in earning an MBA without leaving your job? Learn why young professionals and experienced executives looking for an MBA in Houston choose Rice.

Image of Houston skyline
Student Life

Life has changed since COVID. And Houston has changed right along with it. Explore the top 6 reasons why you should choose the city of Houston for your MBA. 

Making Change
Programs

Americans faced historic challenges over the last two years. These experiences have forged a new urgency for creating work cultures that are diverse, equitable and inclusive. Rice Business is facing this challenge head-on.