Paul Danos, Dean Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Santiago’s post on cultural diversity in Canadian schools, combined with the Diversity conference that our students at Tuck hosted this past weekend, has prompted me to think about the responsibility a business school has for fostering diversity on campus. I know that Santiago posted some thoughts on how business schools must create "cosmopolitan managers" last month, so here are some thoughts of my own:
There is no question that top schools must educate a student body that represents a diverse cross-section of races, citizenships, religions, and geographic regions. But for most schools today, a continued commitment to diversity isn’t just about doing what’s right. The truth is that it is also a business imperative: today’s business education just isn’t world-class if it does not include exposure to a diverse faculty and student body.
Much of the learning and growing that takes place happens through personal interaction, as each student gains new insights from the personal experiences and perspectives of classmates and professors. Without diverse experiences to draw from, they would simply be unprepared for today’s increasingly cross-cultural business environment.
For Tuck, this means that our curriculum must expose them to not just Boston, but also Beijing, Bangalore and Sao Paulo. And diversity is more than skin color and country of origin: they also must be challenged by those with varying professional experiences, from consultants and investment bankers to photographers and football players.
Of course, an administration can place an important emphasis on continuing to grow our diversity, but the work of our students and faculty is where the action really is. Conferences and student-run clubs like the Gay/Straight Alliance, Hispanic-American Student Association, and professional groups like the African American Business Association and the Asian Business Club play a vital role, and a school must provide the infrastructure necessary for them to succeed.
The truth is that every member of a b-school community has a unique background and perspective to share, and in large part students are here to expose each other to their own diverse experiences. Being in such a diverse population is one of the great joys of an academic experience and smart students make extracting every ounce of that endless pool of knowledge a major part everyday life.