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Origins: How it Began

An Extension of the Journey

The 1994 conference was a high point, but just a beginning. At the onset, the planners had not known, until the first responses filtered in, whether there was demand for their offering. In 1995, as they expanded the outreach and launched a second campaign, they found that indeed there was: the second conference drew more people than the first, with 324 attendees. Since then attendance has ebbed and flowed only moderately, from a low of 290 to as many as 442, generally counter to the direction of the economy.

The PhD Project model, successful as it was in attracting and informing, still had two major gaps to close. To fulfill the promise made to Carolyn Callahan, student associations for all five business disciplines had to be created. Other sponsors would have to step forward to help fund all this. The Project began a proactive effort to attract new ones that continues to this day. All original four founding sponsors remain as contributors, now augmented by an impressive list of corporate and other sponsors. In addition, universities—both doctoral granting and non-doctoral granting—now participate and contribute financially.

With this support, the information systems student group started in 1996, with the other three launching in 1997. Each group has met every summer since then.

The second gap was actually an extension of the journey. Minorities are even more underrepresented at the leadership levels of higher education: deans, department chairs, provosts and other administrative positions. In 2010, The PhD Project introduced Project AHEAD to increase diversity at this level.

The milestones unfolded:

At the November 1998 conference, Dr. Alisa Mosley, the first attendee of the 1994 conference to complete her doctorate and thus become the first PhD Project professor, was duly capped at the closing session.

In 2002, Dr. Alisha Malloy became the 588th minority professor, doubling the number of minority business faculty since the Project’s formation. She was nicknamed Dr. Double.

In 2005, The PhD Project was reorganized as a separate 501(c)(3) corporation, with KPMG continuing as lead sponsor and administrator. KPMG’s total commitment as of publication date was $16,750,000.

In 2007, Dr. Belinda Shipps became Dr. Triple when she became the 882nd business professor.

In 2009, Dr. Shalei Simms became the 1,000th minority business professor in the U.S.

In 2011, The PhD Project created a Hall of Fame. The inaugural inductees: Dr. Quiester Craig, Dr. John Elliott, Bernie Milano, Dr. Mel Stith and Dr. Andy Policano.

In 2012, Dr. Miles Davis became the first PhD Project professor to be named a business school dean—at Shenandoah University. Dr. Carolyn Callahan, Dr. Ralph Katerberg and Dr. Tom Lopez were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In 2013, Dr. James Alvarez-Mourey became Dr. Quatro as he represented the quadrupling of minority business faculty since the Project’s formation. Dr. David Ford, Dr. dt ogilvie and Dr. Mimi Stamps were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In 2014, John Fernandes, retiring as president of AACSB and serving as chair of The PhD Project board of directors, observed, “I don’t think the job is done, but certainly our 20 years of progress have been probably 40 years’ worth.”

2015, The PhD Project celebrates its 10th Anniversary as a separate 501 (c)(3). Faculty Alumni Association Sessions initiated at summer conference. Bentley Teaching Strategies Seminar offered to PhD Project members.

2016, AACSB Aspiring Leaders Seminar offered to PhD Project tenured faculty member

2017, PhD Project Information Sessions added in NYC, Chicago, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta & Boston

2018, The first PhD Project-Baruch College Research Symposium & KPMG Board Fit: Preparing Business Academic Leaders for Corporate Board Service are held.

Dr. Miles Davis, President of Linfield College, is the first PhD Project participant to become President.

The number of minority faculty quintuples since 1994. Dr. Cinco, Nicole Fuller becomes the 1,470th minority business school professor. Dr. Fuller attended the 2010 PhD Project November Conference. She receives her Ph.D. in Management from Texas A&M University and joins the faculty at University of New Orleans.

2019, The PhD Project celebrates its 25th Anniversary!

2020, Blane Ruschak incoming President of The PhD Project

Once the building blocks were in place, The PhD Project’s participants carried it from there. They became PhD Project professors and, spreading across academia, fulfilled the vision of the founders. They became mentors, role models and advisors to countless undergraduate students, both minority and majority. They also helped each other: each new incoming doctoral student would be mentored, formally and informally, by a more senior student or a faculty member. As that student rose in seniority, he or she would reach out and mentor a newer student, all the while still benefitting from the continuing mentorship of those ahead of them. Many of these stories are documented in the chapters that follow.

As a critical mass of new professors developed, something else happened. As their numbers became more prevalent, PhD Project professors could tap into the group and find a research collaborator or resource for virtually any need. If it was for an introduction to a scholar in the field they did not know, perhaps for research or employment- seeking purposes, chances are that person was no more than one or two degrees of separation away through The PhD Project network. PhD Project professors were finding job opportunities, gaining entrée to present at prestigious conferences and publishing in important journals—on their own, with no direct involvement by the Project’s administration—through relationships they developed thanks to the Project.

By the mid 2010s, there was still a long way to go: minority representation in the business disciplines was still far from where it needed to be. But the generation of professors The PhD Project created—the new face of business education—had taken on a life of its own.