Twenty eight of the top business schools in the country, including the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, recently gathered at the University of Minnesota for the inaugural National Diversity MBA Summit. The conference brought together high quality prospective students from historically underrepresented groups in MBA programs – racial minorities, female candidates, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ – with recruiters from nationally recognized business schools who understand and value the richness of a diverse student body in MBA programs.

The overarching goal of the National Diversity MBA Summit, and of the universities attending the Summit was to recruit and enroll more diverse student bodies to reflect the population of the United States as it exists today and becomes even more diverse tomorrow. Why focus on diversity in MBA programs, and why the focus on underrepresented groups now? The answer: Value – these candidates’ experiences, unique perspective, and leadership potential is becoming increasingly critical to success in the business world. By encouraging MBA programs to mirror the greater population and by supporting diversity, MBA graduates will be better able to serve clients and operate in a dynamic and international environment.

Bill Woodson, our assistant dean, told Minnesota Public Radio’s The Daily Circuit why increased diversity is a growing topic in business schools: “When we talk to employers, they make it very clear that they have a preference for recruiting from schools that not only have terrifically well-prepared talent and high-potential talent, but also talent that represents the diversity of the populations that those companies are serving.” Woodson also highlighted UST’s efforts to recruit a high potential group of diverse MBA students noting that 15 full-tuition scholarships are available for underrepresented minorities (details below).

As the Summit creator and founder of Stratus Prep Shawn O’Connor stated, businesses must look like the populations they serve in order to understand their customers and deliver what those customers value. A diverse student body in MBA programs helps to advance knowledge, create positive dissonance, and expose students to different conversations, unique perspectives, and new cultures that will ultimately enhance their communication, strategy, analytical, and customer service skills across industries.

O’Connor noted that the Opus College of Business and other institutions in attendance at the Summit were “pioneers of diversity,” and commended all schools at the Summit for showing institutionalized support to candidates who may have previously opted out of an MBA because they were not white, heterosexual, or male, traditional stereotypes of the typical MBA candidate.

The University of St. Thomas Full Time MBA program illustrates its commitment to building and supporting a diverse MBA program student body in a distinct and concrete manner by offering up to fifteen full-tuition scholarships for applicants who demonstrate a record of academic achievement, professional experience, high potential, and a commitment to diversity. Offered in collaboration with the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), the UST MBA Outreach Scholarship Program enhances access to a world-class MBA education for young professionals from a broad range of backgrounds, bringing valuable diversity of professional experience, thought, and perspective to the classroom and the professional world.

For more information about the Outreach Scholarship program and applying to the Full Time MBA program, please contact ustmba@stthomas.edu, or attend an admissions event at our downtown Minneapolis campus. The University of St. Thomas and Opus College of Business is proud to be a pioneer of diversity and will continually support the strong voices, high potential, and ultimate successes of all of its MBA students and graduates.