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African American Harvard Business School Alumni Lobby for Dean Who Will Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion

The Harvard Business School, located across the Charles River, is positioned directly opposite the College campus.
The Harvard Business School, located across the Charles River, is positioned directly opposite the College campus. By Daniel J. Kwon
By Ellen M. Burstein, Crimson Staff Writer

Members of Harvard Business School’s African-American Alumni Association urged University President Lawrence S. Bacow in a letter earlier this month to prioritize diversity and inclusion in the search for the school’s next dean.

Business School Dean Nitin Nohria announced in a November email to Business School affiliates that he will retire in June 2020 after ten years at the school’s helm.

In an email to University affiliates in November, Bacow and University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 announced that 15 professors will serve on a search committee to select the next dean of the Business School. The group includes faculty from the Business School’s 10 academic units that comprise its primary fields of study.

The letter states that the group wants the search committee to seek out a candidate who will increase the number of African American participants in the school’s Master of Business Administration program, its executive education program, and its eight doctoral programs, according to an early January report from Black Enterprise.

The letter also asks that the next dean of the Business School prioritize existing programs dedicated to supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds.

The letter states that the next Business School dean should increase African American representation among the school’s faculty and senior administrators.

The letter also states that HSBAAA believes Business School leadership should make an effort to increase the number of African Americans central to the case studies taught to Business School students.

Nohria oversaw a 2015 push to double the number of female protagonists in case studies by 2019. More recently, in March 2019, HBS administrators announced plans to hire an Associate Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in response to concerns about a lack of diversity among characters in case studies.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an email to The Crimson that Bacow has responded to the letter sent by the HBSAAA.

“In his response he said he appreciates the effort and energy that members of the HBSAAA have invested, and continue to invest, in advancing diversity and inclusion across HBS—both its people and its programs,” Newton wrote. “He also noted that advancing diversity and inclusion will remain an essential aim of the school in the years ahead, and that it is beneficial to have the HBSAAA’s observations in the context of the dean search and more generally.”

Nohria declined to comment through Business School spokesperson Brian C. Kenny on the search for his successor.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @EllenBurstein.

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