UA business school ranks No. 3 for minority enrollment

The University of Arizona’s business college is being recognized as one of the top in the nation for enrolling minority students. But the college is not only bringing underrepresented students in the door, it’s taking them on to graduation and careers in the Tucson area as well, university officials said. 

The Eller College of Management recently received a No. 3 ranking for minority enrollment in Poets & Quants 2019 ranking of colleges and universities. 

Thirty-nine percent of the incoming freshmen who sign up for a pre-business major are underrepresented students, said Pam Perry, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the college. 

To push those numbers even higher, the college is launching a We are Eller campaign to attract underrepresented students, she said. 

“We are trying to bust the myth that only business people are white men.”   

Mirroring corporate America 

The high numbers are partially a reflection of the university’s commitment to mirror what corporate America expects and wants in a global society, Perry said. As a federally designated Hispanic-Specialty Institution (HSI), the college is focused more on student success and less on entrance exams. 

“Many of the top business schools are so exclusive and their universities are so exclusive, that everyone has to work very, very hard to try and get equity,” Perry said. “We’re more of a transformational university. We really change people’s lives. It’s the old adage, ‘It’s not the quality of input, it’s the quality of output.’” 

As proof, virtually all students – 99 percent – who are accepted into Eller’s upper-division course program go on to receive an undergraduate degree, Perry said.  

“Once students get into the business school, they graduate from the business school.”  

Ninety percent of all grads from the undergraduate program are snatched up by employers within 60 days of commencement, according to the university numbers. 

Last year, 48 of the minority students who graduated took jobs in Tucson, Perry said. Seven accepted positions at Raytheon, six at the university, and seven at accounting firms. 

More than one in five incoming business students Latino  

Minority student enrollment has grown steadily year after year in the past 15 years. Contributing factors are Arizona’s large Hispanic population and the university’s HSI designation that provides funding for support programs to help students succeed. 

Of the incoming pre-business majors, Hispanics make up the largest chunk at 22 percent, followed by 8 percent African American, 6 percent Asian, 2 percent Native American, and 1 percent Pacific Islander.  

Eller College also reaches out to minority middle and high school students with a number of programs including summer and live-in camps like the DigiDudes and TechDivas technology program and the Business Career Awareness Program (BCAP) accounting program. 

For incoming freshmen, programs like LEAD (Leadership, Academic Success and Professional Development), funded by corporate donations, offer tutoring and mentoring.

This year, the college is also rolling out a new mentor program through one of its African American student clubs to help increase enrollment and graduation rates. 

“We’re trying to model much of the behavior of excellent corporate American companies that embrace inclusion,” Perry said. “That inclusion is very important to us whether its economically disadvantaged, ethnic minority or LBGT, where everybody feels like they belong and they can succeed.” 

Corporate America wants a workforce that looks like its customers, she said. 

“Diversity is really important because as national data demonstrates, innovations and solutions are improved with diversity,” Perry said. “When people come with very different ways of solving problems. It really does matter.”

Victoria Harker

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