Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Business as Usual: In an Exclusive Interview with Diverse, KPMG Foundation President Bernie Milano Discusses the State of Affairs at the PhD Project and What Lies Ahead for the Storied Initiative

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Business as Usual: In an Exclusive Interview with Diverse, KPMG Foundation President Bernie Milano Discusses the State of Affairs at the PhD Project and What Lies Ahead for the Storied Initiative

Article excerpt

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Mention Bernie Milano to anyone concerned about the dearth of minorities holding terminal degrees in business and related fields and the response is universal. If it were not for him, things would be much worse. As the founding president and driving force behind a 16-year effort to bolster diversity among teachers in the nation's colleges and schools of business administration, Milano has done things that few thought were possible. While many organizations have started ambitious programs to address diversity, few have stayed the course over the long run. Not so with the KPMG Foundation's PhD Project. Today, there are 1,043 business professors from underrepresented groups, up from fewer than 300 when the project began. Diverse spoke with Milano recently about the project's past, present and future.

Diverse: What has been the most satisfying aspect of your involvement With The PhD Project?

Milano: There have been many satisfying experiences, but I would have to say the overwhelming support :of the academic community. When we started back in 1994 there was a widely held belief that the academy would not support Such a Program. Today, we have over 230 schools involved as well as great Corporate support.

Diverse: Why did KPMG get involved in the first place?

Milano: The Supreme Court has recognized that diversity is essential for the health and well-being of America. Back then, the few number of minority Ph.D.s was a cause of great concern. Claude Steele has shown that there is a direct relationship between the success of minority students and their exposure to people who look like them. By addressing the faculty shortage head on, the benefits flow right on down through the pipeline.

Diverse: What threats does the Project face?

Milano: Of course, there is the constant need to raise money. On the legal front, there are no threats. People need to understand that there is no affirmative action involvement with what we do. Faculty members invite qualified applicants to enroll. No one is admitted to these programs other than for their credentials.

Diverse: How has the economy affected The PhD Project?

Milano: Universities have, as you know, been cutting back. Deans have economic realities they have to contend with. In terms of generating revenue, undergraduate enrollments generate a lot more income. …

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